A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:39 a.m. PDT (7:39 a.m. EDT; 1139 GMT) Wednesday, and SpaceX successfully landed the rocket’s first stage on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. The mission’s primary objective is the deployment of 10 Iridium Next communications satellites into low Earth orbit.
After several near-misses in tries to catch payload shrouds jettisoned from Falcon 9 rockets climbing into space, a high-speed boat tasked with retrieving the fairings for SpaceX to reuse has been upgraded and dispatched into the Pacific Ocean ahead of a launch Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force in California.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral at 1:50 a.m. EDT (0550 GMT) Sunday with the Telstar 19 VANTAGE communications satellite, a powerhouse spacecraft designed to beam broadband and in-flight WiFi signals across the Americas and the North Atlantic. The rocket’s first stage successfully landed at sea aboard SpaceX’s drone ship.
A huge U.S.-built, Canadian-owned communications satellite weighing 15,600 pounds, the heaviest spacecraft of its kind ever launched, is mounted to a Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff early Sunday from Cape Canaveral on a heavy-lifting mission that previously would have required SpaceX to throw away the launcher’s first stage booster.
A series of unprecedented back-to-back test-firings of a rocket engine originally developed for NASA’s space shuttle concluded earlier this month, giving engineers data crucial to achieving rapid 24-hour turnarounds planned for a U.S. military-funded reusable winged booster under construction at Boeing, government and industry officials said.