SpaceX launches rocket with satellites from Vandenberg AFB

No Falcon Way: NASA to stick with SLS, SpaceX more like space ex

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher rocketed into orbit Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, climbing away from a hillside launch complex just after sunrise with 10 Iridium communications satellites.

Friday is exactly one year to the day after SpaceX's first used Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing. The SpaceX rocket had been previously cast as a launch vehicle in January of a Bulgarian communications satellite.

For Friday's launch, a ship, named Mr. Steven, went out to sea where it waited and attempted to catch half of the fairing with its giant net. However, it is attempting to recover part of the fairing, which is the nose cone on the top of the rocket that protects the satellites on their way into space.

At least twice, SpaceX has guided fairing halves to soft landings in the ocean, according to Musk's social media pages.

Friday's launch used the same first-stage rocket from Iridium's similar mission in October.

In one departure from typical SpaceX launches, the company cut the live video feed from the Falcon 9 second stage about 9 minutes into the flight.

SpaceX's previous attempt to catch a Falcon 9 fairing just missed earlier this year. Currently, a typical Falcon 9 launch costs around 62 million US dollars, according to the company. But this was one of the rare occasions Musk has acknowledged his rocket startup's attempts to recover the fairing after launch. 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. "Air wake from fairing messing w parafoil steering".

At successful cutoff of the first stage, cheers could be heard from the control room.

But landing the fairing will be hard. "We still have much to do with this complex undertaking", SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell warned in a statement. SapceX has been working for a long time to ensure that its Falcon rockets can be used repeatedly, which will save a ton of money since SpaceX won't have to construct new rockets for each launch it performs.

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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