SpaceX on friday blasted off a payload of worldwide communications satellites for iridium, marking the first launch of 2019 for the California-based company headed by Elon Musk.
“Three, two, one, ignition, liftoff of Falcon nine,” iridium CEO Matt Desch said on a live webcast as the white Falcon nine rocket took flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:31 am (1531 GMT).
The mission, carrying 10 iridium NEXT satellites to orbit, completes Iridium’s project to replace the world’s largest commercial communication satellite network with seventy five new satellites in orbit.
Friday’s launch was SpaceX’s 8th and final in a series for iridium, which is headquartered in Virginia.
Nine minutes after launch, the tall portion of the Falcon nine rocket landed successfully on a floating platform in the Pacific Ocean.
“There it’s, right in the middle of the bullseye,” said SpaceX commentator John Innsbrucker, as live pictures showed the first stage of the rocket standing upright on the droneship named “Just read the instructions.”
Like alternative rockets, SpaceX’s separate after launch into a first and second stage.
But rather than allowing the first stage, or booster, to fall into the ocean as trash, SpaceX’s Falcon nine fires its engines, maneuvers its grid fins and makes a controlled landing back on Earth.
The effort aims to cut the prices of spaceflight and make costly rocket parts more reusable, like airplanes.