SPACE

SpaceX Launches First Rocket Since September Explosion

The rocket was set to deliver 10 satellites for a communications firm

SPACE
REUTERS
Jan 14, 2017 at 3:27 PM ET

For the first time since a September launchpad explosion, SpaceX once again took to the cosmos on Saturday, launching a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch of the rocket sought to deliver 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for communications company Iridium.

According to Reuters, the the 230-foot rocket took off 9:54 a.m. PST. Roughly 10 minutes following the launch, the first stage of the rocket successfully separated from the rest of the vessel and landed on a droneship platform in the Pacific Ocean. The satellites were expected to begin deployment about an hour following the launch. SpaceX founder Elon Musk confirmed on Twitter that the mission was going smoothly.

The company was forced to halt spaceflight missions after a September 1 launchpad explosion in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The vehicle, another Falcon 9, was undergoing a routine fueling process when it went up in flames, destroying both the rocket and the Israeli Amos-6 satellite it was meant to launch into space. SpaceX called the incident an “anomaly,” and investigators concluded that the explosion was caused by a canister of helium bursting inside the rocket’s second stage liquid oxygen tank.

The company is aiming to launch 27 rockets in 2017, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, more than triple the amount of flights it conducted last year. Additionally, SpaceX is aiming to launch its first heavy-lift booster this year, fly its first reused rocket, and fix the launchpad that was damaged in the September explosion.