SpaceX follow up Facebook mission failure with triumphant 10 satellite payload launch (VIDEO)
SpaceX has successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket after delivering a payload of millions of dollars worth of satellites into orbit, less than four months after a similar mission was scuppered by a fiery explosion.
Consistently sending hardware into orbit is one of the chief goals of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, but Saturday’s launch was the first delivery mission since August 30 when things went pear-shaped.
In the first stage of Saturday’s mission to and from low orbit, the Falcon 9 successfully carried a payload of 10 Iridium satellites into space from Vandenberg Air Base, California.
The reusable rocket then made a safe landing to the Pacific Ocean droneship, ‘Just Read the Instructions.’
Mission looks good. Started deploying the 10 Iridium satellites. Rocket is stable on the droneship.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 14, 2017
Iridium has since commented that all 10 satellites reached orbit without incident.
All 10 #IridiumNEXT satellites have been succecfully deployed into Low-Earth-Orbit #NEXTevolution— Iridium Corporate (@IridiumComm) January 14, 2017
First stage has landed on Just Read the Instructions pic.twitter.com/W0EoLaO4YR— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 14, 2017
Second stage shutdown confirmed. 10 @IridiumComm NEXT satellites in nominal parking orbit. https://t.co/tdni53IviI— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 14, 2017
The ill-fated launch in August of last year never got off the ground in Cape Canaveral, Florida, thanks to an explosion during fueling.
The inferno resulted in the loss of a SpaceX rocket and a multimillion dollar Facebook satellite which was due to bring internet connectivity to parts of rural Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
READ MORE: Facebook satellite lost in SpaceX explosion at Cape Canaveral (VIDEO)
US company Iridium provide global voice and data communications via a network of 66 active satellites and are currently building a new satellite network dubbed Iridium NEXT.
The #IridiumNEXT payload has been secured to the Falcon 9 rocket. T-2 days #NEXTevolutionpic.twitter.com/QZeVmMoaSP— Iridium Corporate (@IridiumComm) January 12, 2017
“The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation,” a SpaceX statement said.
After a Friday dress rehearsal before the launch, Iridium Chief Operating Officer Scott Smith alluded to the challenges facing both companies.
“There are so many variables that need to be considered when finalizing launch preparations, and a slight deviation or unexpected behavior by any of them can jeopardize the launch integrity,” Smith said.