Published: Sat, March 31, 2018
Science | By Cecil Little

SpaceX launches rocket with satellites from Vandenberg AFB

SpaceX launches rocket with satellites from Vandenberg AFB

Hawthorne-based SpaceX Friday launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications from Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Los Angeles.

SpaceX did not attempt to recover Falcon 9's first stage after launch.

While the firm planned to recover half of the payload fairing using the "Mr Steven" boat, which is described a giant webbed catcher's mitt, Elon Musk has since revealed the fairing missed its target and crashed into the ocean.

"Attempting recovery of fairing falling down from space (right now) with our boat, Mr Steven".

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The Falcon 9 rocket that was used in the launch was first used in October 2017.

SpaceX usually broadcasts its launches but the feed was cut 9-minutes into the flight.

The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

The company has quietly attempted to recapture the 43-foot-long fairing halves since at least March of 2017. The fairing did land intact in the ocean, thanks to parachutes that slowed its descent. On Thursday, marine tracking sites had the ship going out into the Pacific Ocean to a location called Iridium 5, which is the name of the launch.

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The odds of Mr. Steven, owned by Louisiana-based company SeaTran, successfully capturing the fairing on Friday probably aren't good. As per Space X vision as they are upgrading their First Stage booster these older boosters can be discarded by space missions.

Lightsey, the aerospace engineering professor, said parafoils can guide objects to fairly precise landings.

And the company likely won't air the fairing landing attempt on its live stream, since that effort is experimental. "We still have much to do with this complex undertaking", SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell warned in a statement. And for the most part, it's paid off. Another used Falcon 9 rocket will launch an uncrewed Dragon cargo ship, which has also flown previously, to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

So, while today's launch might not be quite as exciting as the company's Falcon Heavy launch last month, there's still plenty of reason to be impressed.

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