An Israeli-built moon lander aiming to become the first privately-funded mission reach another planetary body rocketed away from Cape Canaveral on Thursday night aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, riding piggyback with an Indonesian communications spacecraft and an experimental U.S. Air Force space surveillance microsatellite.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off at 8:45 p.m. EST Thursday (0145 GMT Friday) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The commercial launcher, featuring a reused first stage booster flying for the third time, hauled into orbit Indonesia’s Nusantara Satu communications satellite, the Beresheet lunar lander for SpaceIL, and the S5 space surveillance payload for the Air Force Research Laboratory.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, flying with a first stage booster that was previously launched and recovered in May, lifted from Cape Canaveral at 1:18 a.m. EDT (0518 GMT) Tuesday with Indonesia’s Merah Putih communications satellite. The first stage accomplished a pinpoint landing on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.
Firing through a veil of fog blanketing California’s Central Coast, a Falcon 9 launcher climbed into orbit Wednesday with 10 more satellites for Iridium’s voice and data relay constellation, pushing the upgraded network closer to completion as SpaceX accomplished another landing of the rocket’s first stage booster.