Just two days after a successful launch and landing of a reused rocket, SpaceX pulled off another Falcon 9 landing Sunday afternoon.
The rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sunday afternoon, and its first stage made its way back to Earth, successfully landing on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean less than eight minutes later.
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SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had warned ahead of the launch that the ship, named "Just Read the Instructions," had to be moved due to "extreme weather":
@elonmusk Launch at 1:25 delivering 10 satellites for Iridium. Droneship repositioned due to extreme weather. Will be tight. http://spacex.com/webcast
This mission, SpaceX's second in just 48 hours, delivered 10 new Iridium Communications satellites. On Friday, the company launched and landed a reused rocket for the second time to put a Bulgarian TV broadcast satellite into orbit; that mission, originating in Florida, had been delayed to give the team there time to replace a valve, setting up this weekend's "doubleheader."
On a company webcast, loud cheers could be heard when the first-stage rocket landed on the drone ship despite fears that low visibility would make the maneuver too difficult. On Twitter, Musk praised the Falcon 9's new, larger titanium fins that should be able to survive re-entry from space without needing to be repaired or replaced:
@elonmusk New titanium grid fins worked even better than expected. Should be capable of an indefinite number of flights with no service.
All 10 of the Iridium satellites were successfully deployed from the Falcon 9's second stage, SpaceX said on its webcast.
—By Eric Johnson, Recode.net.
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