After a gap of several months, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster returned to flight on Saturday, Jan. 10th, and successfully launched 10 satellites into Earth’s orbit.
SpaceX announced that a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 12:54 p.m. EST (1754 GMT) from a launch pad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, just a few hundred meters from the scenic coastline of the state.
It carried Virginia-based company Iridium’s ten communications satellites to low-Earth orbit for the Virginia-based company Iridium. Deployment of the satellites started 59 minutes after he launch and took around 15 minutes.
Iridium representatives said in a statement, “Iridium NEXT will dramatically enhance Iridium's ability to meet the growing demand for global mobile communications on land, at sea and in the skies.”
The exciting return-to-flight mission also included a rocket landing on a ship at sea. Just a few minutes after lift off, the rocket’s first stage got separated from the upper stage and returned to Earth to make a successful touchdown on one of the company’s two robotic drone ships, which was positioned in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
The Elon Must-let space firm has thus far pulled off seven such rocket touchdowns during orbital launches. Five of those touchdowns landed on drone ships and on their launch sites on terra firma.