SpaceX launches its first rocket in 2019, completes Iridium contract

By Vignesh Giridharan | Published on Jan 14 2019
SpaceX launches its first rocket in 2019, completes Iridium contract
HIGHLIGHTS

SpaceX saw no technical difficulties in launching the Falcon 9 rocket this time around. It also successfully recovered the first stage of the rocket.

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Highlights:

  • SpaceX completes its first launch of 2019
  • It successfully delivers ten satellites for Iridium
  • The company recovers the rocket's first stage

 

SpaceX successfully delivered ten Iridium NEXT satellites into space on the morning of January 11, marking the Elon Musk-owned space agency’s first launch in 2019, and the last launch for its long-time customer, Iridium. This last batch of satellites completes the Iridium global satellite constellation, the American communications company’s campaign to replace its commercial communication satellite network.

On the eighth and final mission for Iridium, SpaceX used its Falcon 9 rocket to put ten satellites into low-Earth orbit approximately 1 hour, 12 minutes after its launch from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E), Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. As per mission plan, the first stage of the Falcon 9 was successfully landed on the “Just Read the Instructions” autonomous spaceport drone ship that was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

According to a recent report by The Register, SpaceX still refers to the recovery of its rocket’s first stage as an ‘attempt’, even though the company’s business plan depends on a full, problem-free recovery. The last time SpaceX performed a recovery of its first stage was when it launched the Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite for Canadian communications company Telsat back in September last year. This Iridium mission marks the ninth successful landing of the Falcon 9’s first stage.

It appears SpaceX is finally seeing some luck with the weather and launch equipment because it was forced to cancel the launch of the Falcon 9 during the United States Air Force’s GPS III SV01 mission last month. The December 18 launch was postponed because the rocket had apparently thrown up a sensor issue. The launch finally happened on December 23 at 7:21 PM IST (1:51 PM UTC).

 

Related Read: SpaceX, Blue Origin cancel their rocket launches again

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