Recently, SpaceX released 10 satellites to orbit in an exciting return-to-flight mission that included a rocket landing on a ship at sea as well. According to reports, the two-stage Falcon 9 rocket of SpaceX lifted off from a launch pad just a few hundred meters from the scenic California coastline, carrying 10 communications satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium (which is a Virginia-based company).
SpaceX successful in return-to-flight rocket launch and landing
As the rocket climbed skyward, only a few clouds made the view of the rocket unclear after a week of strong winds and heavy winds. Roll out of the satellite started 59 minutes after liftoff and it took out 15 minutes, according to the representatives of SpaceX.
For the company “SpaceX”, which is headed by Elon Musk, this success was very important, especially after the September 1 launch pad incident where an explosion destroyed a Falcon 9 and its payload. The Falcon 9 was actually a $200 million Amos-6 communications satellite, so it was a huge loss for the Elon Musk company. Until today, the company was grounded as it was investigating the accident and was working to make sure that nothing similar to it happens in the future.
The recent huge success of SpaceX did not just include sky action. The first stage of Falcon 9 separated from the upper stage a few minutes after the launch. The Falcon 9 headed back down to Earth in an attempt to touchdown on one of the two robotic drone ships of Space X. The drone ship was stationed in the Pacific Ocean off the California coast.
Mere 8 minutes after lifting off, the rocket stuck the landing. Now during orbital launches, the SpaceX has pulled off seven such touchdowns, with around two rockets flying back to their launch sites on terra firma and five coming on the drone ships.
The rocket landing was not the main aim of SpaceX
The last six landings took place after launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station of Florida, between Dec 2015 and August 2016. The main priority of CEO Elon Musk is to develop rapidly and fully reusable launch vehicles and these rocket touchdowns are part of the company’s effort. The Billionaire founder of the company, Musk, had previously said that such tech could reduce the cost of launches dramatically, potentially allowing better access to space.
The rocket landing may have been dramatic but the actual aim of the company is to loft the 1,896-lb. (860 kilograms) satellites that are the first 10 members of 70-spacecraft “NEXT” constellation planned by Iridium. The other 60 will ride Falcon 9 rockets as well to orbit out of Vandenberg, on a series of six more launches. The company representatives said that the “NEXT” constellation will ultimately replace the current communication network of Iridium that consists of 66 satellites in low-Earth orbit. In an online description of NEXT, the Iridium representatives wrote, “Iridium NEXT will dramatically enhance Iridium’s ability to meet the growing demand for global mobile communications on land, at sea and in the skies.”