SpaceX, returned to the skies on Saturday with a flawless delivery of communications satellites into orbit, its first flight since a 1 September fireball destroyed a rocket and its payload on a Florida launch pad
Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, returned to the skies on Saturday with a flawless delivery of communications satellites into orbit, its first flight since a 1 September fireball destroyed a rocket and its payload on a Florida launch pad.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 Iridium Communications satellites rumbled aloft from Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s central coast shortly after 9.54am local time, amid clear skies and a majestic view of the Pacific Ocean.
The rocket’s first stage touched down upright on an unmanned drone ship miles offshore about eight minutes later, a feat that SpaceX accomplished four times in 2016 and captured on the company’s webcast.
“Mission looks good. Started deploying the 10 Iridium satellites,” said Musk, who watched from the control room with Iridium’s CEO, in a Twitter post. “Rocket is stable on the droneship.”
Musk later confirmed that all of the satellites had deployed, marking completion of the company’s mission.
The triple success — launch, drone-ship landing and mission completion — was a relief and welcome start to the new year for the company.
SpaceX hopes to launch 20 to 24 rockets this year, an aggressive pace given that eight missions were completed in 2016. Iridium, one of SpaceX’s largest commercial satellite customers, has signed on for six more launches, all of them scheduled for Vandenberg.
Saturday’s success was critical because SpaceX has a contract with the Nasa to send astronauts to the International Space Station and is targeting November for the first demonstration flight and May 2018 for the first test flight with humans aboard.( courtesy of techcentral.co.za)