On Wednesday, SpaceX completed its second Falcon 9 rocket launch of the week. Stowed away inside the rocket’s massive cargo hold were a total of ten communications satellites belonging to Iridium, which is one of SpaceX’s most frequent and highest-paying customers.
Image Credit: SpaceX/Twitter
SpaceX commanded all nine of the Falcon 9 rocket’s Merlin engines to ignite at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:39 A.M. Eastern time. The launch transpired at the coast opposite of where a Falcon 9 rocket ferried a 15,500-pound communications satellite into space on Sunday.
Despite the foggy conditions that made viewing the launch less than ideal for local spectators, the rocket experienced virtually no trouble as it completed its primary mission.
Soon after the launch, the rocket’s first stage fell back to Earth and landed upright on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. A while later, the precious cargo the rocket was carrying made it to outer space and continued onward until reaching an ideal Earth-orbiting altitude.
As always, SpaceX live-streamed the launch from its website for those interested. The full webcast is now available to watch on YouTube:
The ten communications satellites that went into space Wednesday morning bring Iridium’s total NEXT satellite count to 65. The firm wants to have 75 NEXT satellites in space, and with that in mind, one final launch in the future could realize this goal.
Worthy of note, the Falcon 9 rocket used during Wednesday’s launch was of the ‘Block 5’ variety. SpaceX says its Block 5 line of Falcon 9 rockets offer greater reusability than the previous model and that this makes refurbishing them more feasible.