USA private spaceflight company SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 64 small satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the state of California on Monday, setting a US launch record for most satellites put into space at a single time.
The rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, arcing over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles as it headed toward space. The mission set a record for SpaceX for putting the most satellites into orbit in one mission; all 64 satellites were confirmed to have deployed successfully.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the new "block 5" stages are designed fly dozens of times with minimal refurbishment between launchings, a key element in the company's drive to lower launch costs by recovering and re-flying the Falcon 9's first stage. Previous Falcon 9 stages had to retire after two flights, yet Monday's Falcon 9 booster is going for its third space journey. It also marked the 19th successful launch of 2018, already surpassing the 18 launches made in 2017. That will make it the largest single collection of spacecraft to launch from the US.
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"Plan is to dry them out & launch again", Musk wrote. "Nothing wrong with a little swim". The rocket carried 64 satellites of various uses on what was billed as a "ridesharing" mission. Over 34 different public and private organisations were involved, from 17 countries, including the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Poland, and others. These missions took off from Launch Complex 39A and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (respectively), and both concluded with the first stage successfully landing on the "Of Course I Still Love You" droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. Approximately ten minutes after leaving the launch pad, the second stage's engine was cut-off as the vehicle and its satellites reached the targeted orbit. Spaceflight is expected to share updates about the remaining payloads.
On Nov. 15, SpaceX launched a Qatari communications satellite into orbit from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The massive influx of new satellites into low-Earth orbit poses hard questions for the space sector, particularly when it comes to orbital debris.
Soon after the drone ship docks in port, SpaceX recovery technicians install a brace and lifting jig that attaches to Falcon 9's booster interstage, using the same mechanisms that connect the first stage to the second stage prior to stage separation.