As most of us were gearing up for another thrilling Monday, SpaceX was launching its 14th mission of the year from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
At 8:37 am ET, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roared to life carrying ten Iridium Next satellites. While the primary mission of deploying the satellites into orbit is the most important part, it’s the landing that draws eyes from around the world.
With the skies dark over the Pacific Ocean, we don’t get to see much. We see the engines flare back to life as the first stage deploys its grid fins to steer the rocket to a drone ship waiting in the water. Fast forward to 28:00 to see the beginning of the landing. 90 seconds later, and the first stage softly touches down on the droneship ‘Just Read the Instructions.’
What an incredible sight! This morning’s landing marks the 17th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage. What was once called impossible now seems routine.
The folks gathered at SpaceX celebrated the landing, but then quickly turned their attention to the primary mission. Delivering those 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit.
About an hour after launching from the California coast, SpaceX released the first satellite. 100 seconds later it released another. And repeated the same cadence until all ten were successfully deployed.
“We’re 10 for 10, a clean sweep of Iridium NEXT satellite deployments in the desired final orbit,” said SpaceX mission commentator John Insprucker. “It’s been a great morning.”
And just like that, another successful SpaceX mission. That marks 14 straight successful missions after one of its rocket exploded on the launch pad last September.
Another one on Wednesday
Yep, you read that right. Space fans are in for another SpaceX treat this week. On Wednesday, SpaceX is set to launch another Falcon 9. This time, back on the east coast at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SES and Echostar are entrusting SpaceX with the launch of their satellite.
At launch, the paylaod will weigh north of 11,000 pounds.
— Peter B. de Selding (@pbdes) September 20, 2017
Wednesday’s launch is a little more special than usual. It’ll be the third time SpaceX reused a first-stage booster. And SES’s second time watching their payload head up on a booster that’s already been to space.
It looks like launch will be right before sunset at 6:53 pm ET on Wednesday.
Top image: A rocket launch into dark skies from earlier this year. Credit: SpaceX
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