In the second launch in two days SpaceX successfully deployed ten more Iridium® NEXT satellites. The Falcon 9 booster lifted off from Vandenberg, CA carrying the ten satellites at 4:25 PM EDT and 57 minutes later started deploying the individual satellites.
The first stage landed back on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship “Just Read The Instructions”, which as Elon Musk tweeted earlier had to be repositioned.
This was the first Falcon 9 launch that used a newer design for the grid fins and according to another tweet from Elon performed better than expected.
This was the ninth launch this year and seventh landing, making this the most launches in a single year for SpaceX.
This afternoon at 3:10 pm EDT SpaceX successfully delivered the BulgariaSat-1 satellite to orbit. Originally scheduled to launch on Monday the flight was delayed to give SpaceX time to replace a valve on the payload fairing that, while it had a redundant system, wasn’t worth risking the launch for.
This is the eighth launch of 2017 for SpaceX which equals their previous record for launches in a single year. That record is scheduled to be broken on Sunday when the second Iridium Next launch is due to occur.
This was the second launch to use a flight proven booster, this one had previously been used on Jan 14th to launch the first Iridium Next mission. As SpaceX continue to improve their processes the time between launches of previously flown boosters should drop significantly.
The first stage successfully returned to the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS) “Of Course I Still Love You” following the successful completion of the first stage mission. As Elon Musk mentioned below this wasn’t guaranteed. On its first flight, the booster landed on the ASDS “Just Read the Instructions”.
Today SpaceX once again made history with the first launch of a previously flown first stage booster. The Falcon 9 lifted off at 6:27 pm EDT today with the SES-10 payload.
The booster was previously used for the SpaceX CRS-8 mission on 8th April 2016, the booster was the first to successfully land on an Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS). Following a comprehensive review of the booster, SpaceX was confident that it was ready for a second mission which it completed today with the successful launch and landing this time back on the ASDS “Of Course I Still Love You”.
During a press briefing after the successful mission, Elon Musk revealed that the payload fairing had been successfully recovered to making yet another milestone in the march towards rapid reusability.
The SES-10 payload was successfully deployed to orbit 32 minutes after liftoff making this the fourth successful mission of 2017.