SpaceX set to launch satellites from California air base

Xavier Trudeau
Juin 26, 2017

Two of the firm's Falcon 9 rockets were launched within 49 hours of each other, one from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and one from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket carried a batch of new satellites for Iridium Communications, which is replacing its orbiting fleet with a next generation constellation of satellites. Iridium will be sending more satellites into space over the course of six launches to follow Sunday's. Reusing rockets is a crucial concept SpaceX has studied and labored over to slash costs in rocket manufacturing, engineering, and launching.

On Sunday, SpaceX was back again, this time with its second mission for Iridium.

About seven minutes later the rocket's first-stage booster made its way back to Earth, successfully landing on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.

A SpaceX (Private:SPACE) launch deployed 10 satellites, doubling the number of NEXT satellites in orbit to 20.

SpaceX is rapidly becoming the go-to company for putting satellites and gear into orbit.

The last time United States rockets launched such simultaneous types of rockets in two days apart was in 1995 when both Lockheed Martin Atlas and Atlas-E sent two separate missions into space with the intention of delivering Intelsat broadcast and Air Force weather satellites to space.

Additionally, SpaceX is among the leaders of contracts for the United States Air Force, lofting satellites into orbit for the military. The launch conditions were not ideal, but still it was deemed safe to proceed and the rocket re-landed safely on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship, making it SpaceX's eighth successful sea landing. Elon Musk led SpaceX is also planning to launch for the first time the Falcon Heavy, an extensively boosted derivative rocket.

Iridium plans to launch 75 new satellites for its mobile voice and data communications system by mid-2018. The fins are custom cut from one piece of titanium and are created to withstand the heat of reentry.

"SpaceX has been a disruptor of the long-time status quo of the commercial space industry", Iridium chief Matt Desch said, CNBC reports.

On Friday, SpaceX used a previously flown rocket booster that was used in a January mission. SpaceX's surge of two launches in under three days is also significant, since it may point to a day when rockets take off as frequently as airliners.

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