17 January, 2017
The private space exploration company launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, taking 10 satellites into space for voice and data company Iridium.
The rocket delivered its cargo of 10 communication satellites into orbit on Saturday following a failed attempt which resulted in a disastrous explosion in August, setting back the launch by four months. Saturday morning's launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California went off without a hitch.
Following the launch, SpaceX also announced that the lower part of the rocket also successfully landed on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean known as "Just Read the Instructions".
"We are very proud to be chosen as the launch provider for the entire Iridium NEXT program and are excited about today's successful first launch", said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. Space X officials also mentioned once again after Saturday's launching that they have identified all possible causes of the September 1 accident past year during pre launch testing at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and took all necessary corrective action.
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About 80 Iridium NEXT satellites are scheduled to be deployed, and SpaceX is committed to carrying at least 70 of them. The satellite, called Amos 6, was owned by Israeli company Spacecom. SpaceX needs the extra facilities in order to simultaneously land the three core recoverable stages from its Falcon 9 "Heavy" rocket.
The triple success - launch, drone-ship landing and mission completion - was a relief and welcome start to the new year for the company. This is another in the company's thrust towards renewable energy and materials by reusing boosters for different launchings. Iridium NEXT is the company's next-generation satellite constellation, replacing and enhancing its existing network of low-Earth orbit satellites, which is now the largest commercial satellite constellation in space.
Earlier this month, a probe into the cause of the blast concluded that a failed pressure vessel in a liquid oxygen tank was to blame for the failure.