SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully took off from California on Saturday in its first launch since an explosion in September.
SpaceX announced the successful liftoff at 9:54 a.m. PT as the Falcon 9 launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles, on a mission to deliver 10 commercial satellites into space for global satellite communications company Iridium.
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.”
The return landings are part of the company’s goal to reuse rocket components in multiple launches to conserve money, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Falcon 9 was originally scheduled to launch on Jan. 8, but high winds and rains at the launch site delayed the mission until Saturday.
The 10 satellites are the first of 70 that SpaceX plans to launch into orbit as part of Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.
“Iridium NEXT will replace the world’s largest commercial satellite network of low-earth orbit satellites in what will be one of the largest ‘tech upgrades’ in history,” the company said in a statement.
The $3 billion operation will replace 66 older satellites in order to improve mobile voice and data services for the maritime and aviation industries and allow the development of “new and innovative products and solutions” for Iridium’s partners, according to Florida Today.
“It’s going to be an amazing technical feat in itself to accomplish that over the next 15 months or so,” Iridium CEO Matt Desch said.
Desch also said Iridium is “deeply involved” in the investigation into the September explosion and is confident SpaceX had addressed the potential causes.
“We thought they were thorough, we thought they were being careful,” he said. “We know that their interests are aligned with ours. They want to be successful.”
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense