A Falcon 9 rocket soared through a mostly clear sky over the Lompoc Valley early Sunday afternoon following a launch that marked a pair of firsts for Vandenberg Air Force Base.
So far, SpaceX has safely landed first-stage rockets on land or a droneship 13 times.
SpaceX crossed multiple milestones this weekend with the launches marking the company’s fastest turnaround yet. SpaceX is now the only company to hold the record for most successful launches in a year.
The launch was the start of a busy weekend for SpaceX. This mission will see the second re-launch and re-landing of a previously used Falcon 9 rocket, strengthening SpaceX’s reputation as a world-leader in manufacturing flight-proven boosters. The company launched ten satellites on the heels of successfully launching a smaller batch in Florida. The Falcon 9, which had sent 10 rockets up to space in January, was forced to use “almost all of the emergency crush core”, a component used to soften its landing.
The missions saw both rockets drop from space landing into the sea to ensure that the boosters would be available for reuse in the future. Elon Musk led SpaceX is also planning to launch for the first time the Falcon Heavy, an extensively boosted derivative rocket.
Following the launch, the rocket booster successfully landed on the floating pad.
On Friday 23rd June Space X launched the BulgariaSat-1 mission which launched Bulgaria’s first geostationary communications satellite from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. SpaceX catered the satellites of a company called Iridium Communications as the client company sought to update a previous generation’s entire fleet of outmoded satellites already in orbit above the Earth.
It was the second time SpaceX has used a flight-proven first stage on a mission. Iridium previously launched 10 satellites in January, and is now replacing its global satellite network. This launch will lift 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth orbit.
Iridium plans to put in place 75 new satellites for its mobile voice and data communications system by mid-2018, requiring six more launches, all by SpaceX.