Vanderberg, CA.From Spacex: "On January 14, 2017, SpaceX's Falcon 9 successfully delivered 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications".
The first stage of the Falcon 9 is the portion that SpaceX has created to be fully reusable, and took less than eight minutes to separate from the second stage and land on the rocket company's droneship. Iridium, one of SpaceX's largest commercial satellite customers, has signed on for six more launches, all of them scheduled for Vandenberg.
After months of delays and investigation, SpaceX is back in operation.
The program, called Iridium NEXT, was not only delayed by the SpaceX accident but again most recently as a powerful storm headed into California last weekend.
SpaceX said investigators concluded the accident involved a failure of on of the three helium tanks inside the rocket's second-stage liquid oxygen tank. The first stage booster then landed upright on a droneship.
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In addition to a successful launch, this flight also saw a successful landing. SpaceX hopes to launch 20 to 24 rockets this year, an aggressive pace given that eight missions were completed in 2016.
Saturday's flight begins to clear a logjam of more than 70 planned missions, worth more than $10 billion, involving SpaceX Falcon rockets, which last flew in August, SpaceX said. Numerous launches by SpaceX are commercial launches, though some of its missions also involve carrying supplies to the International Space Station. An investigation has been made about the accident by NASA, the FAA and the Air Force, as Fox News reports.
The satellites deployed on Saturday are part of the Iridium NEXT constellation network, providing new and better communications services such as allowing air-traffic controllers to monitor planes flying over oceans anywhere in the world.
According to SpaceX, the loading temperature of the helium was cold enough to form a solid, which could cause the oxygen to get trapped in the tank.