Friday, July 27, 2018

SpaceX launches, lands rocket in challenging conditions

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carried 10 Iridium satellites into orbit on Wednesday. The Iridium-7 mission marked SpaceX's 14th launch of the year and the seventh mission for Iridium Communications, which aims to launch 75 satellites into orbit. After Wednesday's mission, Iridium now has 65 satellites in operation. The rocket blasted-off early Wednesday morning from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. "All 10 satellites have deployed into an on-target orbit," Spaceflight Now's Stephen Clark reported at 8:53 a.m. ET. As usual, SpaceX safely landed the rocket's reusable first stage. The rocket stage landed on the spaceport drone ship "Just Read the Instructions." Though SpaceX's rocket reusability has become routine, Wednesday's weather conditions made the feat more difficult. "Despite challenging weather conditions, Falcon 9 first stage booster landed on Just Read the Instructions," SpaceX wrote on Twitter. Foggy conditions made visibility a problem. At the outset of the live streaming broadcast, the Falcon 9 rocket was nearly invisible, only coming into clear view after liftoff. Choppy seas added to the challenge of landing the first stage back on Earth.

The 10 Iridium satellites will join the dozens of Iridium satellites already in space. The constellation of communication satellites -- now featuring 75 satellites and scheduled to get 10 more later this summer -- is designed to support the Internet of Things, the technology behind smart devices.

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