Setting new commercial launch and satellite industry records, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelled by a first stage booster launched and recovered two times before soared into a clear morning sky over California’s Central Coast on Monday with 64 small satellites, then returned to a pinpoint landing on a vessel parked offshore in the Pacific Ocean, potentially to be flown again.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:34 a.m. PST (1:34 p.m. EST; 1834 GMT) Monday. The launch, under contract to Spaceflight, carried into orbit 64 small satellites from 17 countries, the largest multi-payload rideshare mission ever flown on a U.S. rocket. The Falcon 9’s first stage booster previously flew on two missions from Florida, and landed again on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean after Monday’s launch.
SpaceX teams at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California are preparing to launch a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit Monday, powered by a reused first stage booster flying on its third mission, a first for the company as engineers continue chasing a long-term goal of re-flying the same rocket on back-to-back days.
India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted off Thursday and deployed in orbit a hyperspectral Earth-imaging satellite designed to assess vegetation, soil conditions and pollution in rich detail, then maneuvered to a lower altitude to release 30 more smallsats, including reinforcements for Planet and Spire’s commercial Earth-observing constellations.