Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

SpaceX to launch Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX is gearing a rocket for its second mission in the last three days.

The first stage of this Falcon 9 has flown once before: On Feb. 19, it helped launch SpaceX's Dragon cargo capsuleon an uncrewed resupply run to the International Space Station for NASA.

SpaceX successfully launched 10 new Iridium communications satellites into low-Earth orbit on Monday (9 October) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:57AM PST.

"Each successful launch brings us one step closer to both a technological and financial transformation", said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.

SpaceX will stream the entire launch for free on YouTube.

SpaceX is using a pre-flown ('flight-tested') first stage as part of its Falcon 9 rocket, and SES's CTO Martin Halliwell - on site at the Kennedy Space Centre - told local press that the rocket was "ready to fly".

Today's launch is for EchoStar and SES, a satellite with a dual goal for both of these clients. The rocket hardware will then arrive back at Port Canaveral in a few day's time.

Each of the three launches has put 10 new satellites into orbit, gradually replacing the old Iridium satellites, still in service after almost two decades. That's more than any other country or company in the world has managed this year, and it's bound to make SpaceX's competitors quite uneasy. Following deployment, the rocket will attempt a landing on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic ocean. EchoStar 105/SES-11 is scheduled to be deployed into high transfer orbit some 36 minutes after launch.

Minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9's second stage separated and proceeded to orbit for satellite deployment.

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