Those who follow space news closely already know that SpaceX launched and then landed a refurbished Falcon 9 booster under some of the most demanding conditions that any Falcon 9 (new or used) has ever experienced before, and it did so following the delivery of a heavy satellite into orbital altitude around the Earth.
Image Credit: SpaceX
On the other hand, it would seem this wasn’t the only rocket the commercial space company launched this weekend, as back-to-back launches occurred throughout the weekend from two different sides of the country.
Following the refurbished Falcon 9 launch from Florida on Friday, which sent a heavy Bulgarian satellite into space, a second launch occurred from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base on Sunday within 48 hours of the first launch.
The second rocket was reportedly carrying 10 smaller communications satellites into space, which were then ejected once reaching orbital altitude. The first stage returned to Earth where it landed upright on a barge in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
These 10 satellites were owned by Iridium Communications and are replacing an older set that have been in service for years. This very same company has ordered several more launches through SpaceX that will send even more communications satellites into space following those that already went.
You can watch the launch below:
SpaceX is pushing heavily for more frequent rocket launches because it increases the profitability of the venture. On the other hand, the company also hopes that further investing in reusable rocket technology will reduce the costs of space launches across the board, putting it in reach for other commercial and private entities.
Rather than having to build an entirely new rocket booster every time the company want to fare someone’s equipment into space, this process involves refurbishing a previously-used rocket booster with some new components and then re-fueling it, which means the main skeleton can be used once again.
Not all commercial and private sectors are onboard with the refurbished rocket idea just yet, but they’ve admitted they could change their minds if the refurbished rocket booster track record becomes a little more reputable.
It should be interesting to see what else SpaceX has in store for their reusable rocket business.