On Friday, SpaceX lofted a total of 10 Iridium satellites into space with a previously-flown Falcon 9 rocket. The rocket ignited its engines on a launch pad at Space Launch Complex 4E at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at approximately 7:31 A.M. local time (10:31 Eastern time).
As you might come to expect, SpaceX live-streamed the launch for the world to see. This footage, leftover from the launch, shows the rocket taking off from its launchpad to complete its primary mission. Around seven minutes later, the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage fell back to Earth and landed upright on a drone ship that was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
This launch was particularly crucial to SpaceX, not only because of the number of satellites that were tucked away in the rocket’s cargo hold but also because it completed a two-year contract with Iridium. Throughout the agreement, Iridium built up its NEXT satellite constellation, using SpaceX to put its multitude of satellites into orbit around the Earth.
There was once a time when you could bet on SpaceX’s first stage landing odds with the flip of a coin, but the commercial space company has quickly developed one of the safest means of space travel in the industry today, and a fantastic reputation to go along with that.