SpaceX Completes Launch Of Second Falcon 9 In Two Days

SpaceX Completes Launch Of Second Falcon 9 In Two Days

SpaceX was tasked with launching 10 satellites for global communications provider Iridium.

SpaceX launched and landed two Falcon 9 rockets this past weekend.

The satellites belong to the communications company Iridium.

Sunday's countdown proceeded smoothly to zero at 4:25:14 p.m. ET when the Falcon 9's nine Merlin 1D first-stage engines ignited and throttled up, generating 1.7 million pounds of thrust and a billowing cloud of exhaust.

That launch re-used a Falcon 9 first stage that originally flew in January and was recovered after launching from Vandenberg with the first batch of Iridium next-generation satellites.

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Billionaire Elon Musk, who founded Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, believes reusing rocket components will bring down the cost of space launches.

The initial phases of the launch went according to plan, the second stage enters the low Earth orbit prior to a second burn following the spacecraft separation. Iridium NEXT will replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites in what will be one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history.

"Now that we're into the launch phase after more than seven years of effort, we're poised to complete the replacement transformation of our very unique network through a total of eight launches spread over a very short 18 months", Iridium CEO Matthew Desch told reporters last week.

SpaceX's launch of a Bulgarian communication satellite was delayed in four days due to a technical hitch that needed to be fixed before the rockets could be flown off, the company used the recycled Falcon booster that set up a weekend doubleheader. The new fins are a bit heavier, but are designed for multiple re-uses as SpaceX seeks to more toward rapid reuse of its first stage booster.

Sunday's launch took place 49 hours and 15 minutes after that of the previous launch mission, which successfully deployed Bulgaria's first geostationary communications satellite into orbit on Friday. The new satellites will not create visible flashes of reflected sunlight as they passed overhead.

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