Thursday, 13 December, 2018


SpaceX launches all-smallsat Falcon 9 mission

Falcon 9 Rocket Falcon 9 Rocket
Kristine Garrett | 04 December, 2018, 02:48

"Following stage separation, SpaceX will attempt to land Falcon 9's first stage on the "Just Read the Instructions" drone ship, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean", SpaceX announced on its website.

With SpaceX taking responsibility for the launch of the Falcon 9, Spaceflight Industries handled "all the mission management planning, engineering, integration, mission assurance and system engineering processes, regulatory and policy procedures, contracting, and business development for the mission", the company said in a statement.

Sunday morning's launch attempt was postponed to allow for additional inspections of the rocket's second stage.

SpaceX launched a rocket carrying a payload of 64 satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base on December 3, 2018.

The first stage was previously launched and recovered during missions in May and August. The rocket carried 64 satellites of various uses on what was billed as a "ridesharing" mission.

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 marked one of the largest satellite ride-sharing missions ever launched and the most crowded single mission in United States history, according to Spaceflight, SpaceX's customer for the launch. The company has for years worked as a liaison between small satellite companies and launch providers, looking to put small payloads onto rockets with extra room on board.

Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface.

Deploying all 64 satellites safely is tricky business.

Spaceflight declined to release a full list of what satellites and payloads are launching aboard its mission. Spaceflight is expected to share updates about the remaining payloads.

The mission comes days after India fired a rocket carrying 31 satellites into space. Another mission from Russian Federation in 2014 deployed 37 satellites. Still, it's an important step toward commercializing spaceflight and making orbit more accessible. One sponsored a balloon that will inflate in orbit and be visible from the ground. Its backlog of customers is so long that CEO Peter Beck told CNN Business the company is "not constrained by customers right now - we're only constrained by how quickly we can build rockets".

On Nov. 15, SpaceX launched a Qatari communications satellite into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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