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.
Engineers working for Spaceflight, a Seattle-based launch services company, are in the final steps of preparing for the first launch of new robotic free flyers carrying more than 70 small government and commercial satellites into polar orbit later this year aboard a dedicated flight of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.