SpaceX set to launch Falcon 9 from California air base

This rocket will be carrying an Iridium communications satellite into orbit.

Hawthorne-based aerospace firm SpaceX completed its second successful launch of the weekend Sunday, sending a series of communications satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The SpaceX-built rocket took off from VAFB's Space Launch Complex-4 at 1:25 p.m. These satellites form the Iridium Next network.

SpaceX has succeeded in landing a Falcon 9 first-stage booster on a vessel in the Pacific after a launch from California. Due to the fact that the Falcon 9 had to push the BulgariaSat-1 satellite into a higher orbit than usual, the booster was subjected to more heat and stresses during reentry.

Friday's feat is the second time SpaceX has launched and landed a previously launched rocket.

On Friday, the space company re-used one of its Falcon 9 crafts to shoot a Bulgarian satellite up from Florida.




About 2.5 minutes into the flight, the rocket's two stages separated, and the first stage began maneuvering its way back to Earth.

SpaceX does not expect to retrieve every booster it uses, because many satellite launches have re-entry speeds that are simply too fast to limit.

Following the landing at sea, Musk tweeted that the rocket had "used nearly all of the emergency crush core", a honeycomb-shaped component that helps reduce the impact.

"Right now, it's two down with six more launches to go", Matt Desch, chief executive officer of Iridium, said in a statement. The latest event comprised of 10 new satellites for Iridium that will uplift Iridium's NEXT constellation mission. It was previously used in January.

This mission, SpaceX's second in just 48 hours, delivered 10 new Iridium Communications satellites.

"The reusable rocket is a breakthrough in space technology that makes it possible for smaller countries and companies to launch their own satellites", Maxim Zayakov, CEO of BulgariaSat, said in a statement in May. He's been trying to get the company to a point where it can reuse things like the rocket's main stage, or the payload fairing (the cone at the top), instead of building a new rocket for each new launch.

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