Keep an eye on the sky for another SpaceX launch this week

06 December, 2018, 11:25 | Author: Emmett Howard
  • Watch SpaceX launch a twice-used rocket tomorrow at 1:31PM ET

The launch, procured by smallsat rideshare company Spaceflight Industries, was the first time SpaceX reused the same first-stage booster for three missions.

SpaceX is postponing the launch of its Falcon 9 rocket to Monday due to booster checks and weather concerns. The mission, on behalf of the private company Spaceflight, set a record for the largest single launch of satellites from US soil, SpaceX said.

Falcon 9 is SpaceX's smaller reusable rocket and has successfully delivered supplies to the International Space Station before landing back on Earth. Until Monday, the company had not relaunched a Falcon 9 rocket that had already been flown into space and then returned to Earth more than twice.

SpaceX landed the booster on the drone ship Just Read the Instructions in the Pacific Ocean about eight minutes after liftoff had occurred from nearby Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The mission from Vandenberg will be SpaceX's 19th launch of the year.

This particular mission also pushed an unprecedented number of small satellites to space for a US-based rocket.

Elon Musk's rocket company has been granted approval by the FCC to send its very-low-Earth orbit constellation of more than 7,000 satellites into space to provide global internet connectivity.

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About half an hour after launch, SpaceX confirmed that four satellites were deployed from the payload stack.

"Plan is to dry them out & launch again. Nothing wrong with a little swim". Spaceflight is expected to share updates about the remaining payloads.

The satellites launched do everything from tracking airplanes and ships to experimental astrobiology satellites built by middle school students. Falcon 9's first stage for the Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission previously supported the Bangabandhu Satellite-1 mission in May this year and the Merah Putih mission in August.

The same booster was used in the first Block 5 launch (the final version of the Falcon 9 created to fly up to 100 times) in May and then again in August. It's not the largest launch ever - The Verge noted that an Indian rocket carried 104 satellites into orbit.

While hitching a ride with larger payloads is considered the cheapest option for getting to space, many nascent rocket companies are promising lightweight rockets that can be mass produced and make cheap, frequent trips to orbit.

Among the satellites crammed into the payload stack was an Australian-built device that will connect remote devices to the internet, and a pair of SkySats-one from the USA and one from Finland-that'll be used to track planes and ships.

The issue took center stage last month for the US Federal Communications Commission, which authorizes telecom satellites for launch.


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