December 12, 2018

Photos: Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Vandenberg on SSO-A rideshare mission


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The first of two launches by SpaceX this week lifted off Monday, Dec. 3, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying 64 microsatellites and CubeSats to an orbit more than 350 miles (575 kilometers) above Earth.

The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 10:34:05 a.m. PST (1:34:05 p.m. EST; 1834:05 GMT) Monday from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg, on a hillside overlooking the Pacific Ocean between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Towering 229 feet (70 meters) tall, the Falcon 9 climbed into a sunny sky atop 1.7 million pounds of thrust, heading south toward a polar orbit on a multi-payload rideshare mission arranged by Spaceflight, a Seattle-based company specializing in booking launch services for CubeSats and other small satellites.

The launch Monday marked the first time SpaceX re-flew a Falcon 9 first stage booster on a third mission, and the first stage returned again to a drone ship stationed around 30 miles (50 kilometers) from the California coast a few minutes after liftoff.

The landing platform returned to the Port of Los Angeles with the rocket standing vertical, for SpaceX to inspect and potentially reuse again.

Read our full report on the launch.

Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage returns to the Port of Los Angeles after the SSO-A launch, its third trip to space and back. Credit: Port of Los Angeles

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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