A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket fired through a dense shroud of coastal fog and climbed into orbit Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, deploying a trio of radar observation satellites to begin a $900 million mission surveying the Arctic, maritime waters, forests and farmland for the Canadian government.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:17:10 a.m. EDT (7:17:10 a.m. PDT; 1417:10 GMT) Wednesday with the Radarsat Constellation Mission for the Canadian government. The Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed back at Vandenberg around eight minutes later.
Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and chief executive, spoke with reporters via conference call May 15 as the company prepared for the launch of the first 60 satellites to build out a network of potentially thousands of broadband relay stations in low Earth orbit providing high-speed Internet to consumers around the world.
The 60 satellites SpaceX is set to launch Wednesday night, beginning the build-out of a broadband network of orbiting spacecraft that could eventually number thousands, are based on a new flat-panel design, with krypton-fueled plasma thrusters, high-power antennas, and a capability to autonomously steer away from other objects in space.