U.S. space firm SpaceX returns to launching rockets on Saturday, four months after an explosion on the launchpad that caused the company to suspend flights.
A Falcon 9 lifted off at approximately 9:54 am PST (12:54 p.m. EST) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carrying 10 Iridium-NEXT satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Several minutes after the successful launch, the first stage of Falcon 9 then landed on droneship “Just Read the Instructions,” marking the first time the private company has landed a booster in the Pacific Ocean.
“Second stage shutdown confirmed. 10 Iridium-NEXT satellites in nominal parking orbit,” SpaceX tweeted.
The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.
This was the California-based company’s first launching since a Falcon 9 exploded on the launchpad during preflight fueling on September 1, 2016.