SpaceX Successfully Returns To Space

Miranda GreerJan 17, 2017

Carrying 10 Iridium satellites, a Falocon 9 rocket lifted off from a launch pad at the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 12:54 p.m. EST (1754 GMT) on Saturday, and successfully launched all the satellites in Earth's low-orbit 59 minutes after the lift off.

The launch's success Saturday was made even sweeter by a smooth return landing for the Falcon 9 rocket's first stage booster. Iridium plans six more Falcon 9 launches, each carrying 10 satellites, as part of a technology upgrade expected to be completed by 2018.

The launch is an important milestone for the company, whose reputation was hit hard by its launch failure on 1 September previous year.

The satellites were deployed about an hour after launch.

The satellites deployed January 14 are part of the Iridium NEXT constellation network, providing new and better communications services such as allowing air-traffic controllers to monitor planes flying over oceans anywhere in the world.

The company also revealed the cause of the explosion.

Moody's Corp. -the world's second-largest credit ratings company-has agreed to hand over $864 million in fines to the U.S., settling claims that its allegedly inflated mortgage securities ratings helped instigate the 2008 economic crisis, the U.S. Justice Department disclosed Friday.

The 10 satellites launched one Saturday are part of McLean, Virginia-based Iridium's project to replace its existing network of satellites that provide global voice and data communications.

SpaceX has been awarded NASA contracts valued at $4.2 billion to resupply the Space Station using its unmanned Dragon spacecraft and ultimately to ferry astronauts to the station from the US with a version of the Dragon that's capable of carrying crews.

"We are very proud to be chosen as the launch provider for the entire Iridium NEXT program and are excited about today's successful first launch", said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. The system is fully tested, and the compatibility of Iridium NEXT with the Block-1 operating satellites has been perfectly demonstrated.

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