On January 14, 2017 at 9:54:39 am (PST), SpaceX launched their first Falcon 9 rocket of the new year from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
This marks the first launch from SpaceX since the vehicle failure back in September 2016. The launch was completely on time and the payload of ten Iridium NEXT satellites was successfully deployed into a low earth orbit.
The mission’s name was ‘Iridium 1’ as this is first mission launching 10 of the NEXT satellites’ of the 70 set to be put up into orbit creating a new communication constellation. This satellites upgrade is going to be one of the largest tech improvements in history.
The next 60 are planned to be launched by early 2018 in six more missions, the dates of which have not yet been released. “The process of replacing the satellites one-by-one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before,” SpaceX reports in their press release of January 13, 2017.
This launch also marks the second successful return of the Falcon 9’s first stage back to earth landing on the drone ship ‘Just Read the Instructions.’ This being the first landing on this specific drone ship. The last time this was accomplished was back in April of 2016 which was the drone ship ‘Of Course I Still Love You.’
This now puts SpaceX back on track to continue their advancements of rocket tech and brought back the sense of success of the Falcon 9. Now SpaceX looks to the rest of the year where their vehicles will again visit the International Space Station and continue to put satellites into orbit for companies.
Phillip Vanstone (’17)
Images: SpaceX Flickr