Dec 3, 2018 - Science

SpaceX reuses Falcon 9 rocket booster to launch record 64 satellites

SpaceX rocket carries a record 64 satellites to low Earth orbit.

SpaceX Falcon 9 booster successfully landed on the drone ship (left), while the second stage of the rocket continued into space for deploying a record 64 satellites into low Earth orbit (right). Credit: SpaceX.

SpaceX successfully reused for a third time a Falcon 9 rocket booster on Monday — a company first. It also launched 64 satellites from 34 organizations into space from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The mission, on behalf of the private company Spaceflight, set a record for the largest single launch of satellites from U.S. soil, SpaceX said.

Why it matters: Reusing rockets is central to SpaceX's business plan for lowering the cost of access to space. Until Monday, the company had not relaunched a Falcon 9 rocket that had already been flown into space and then returned to Earth more than twice.

  • As if to put an exclamation point on the feat, the company also successfully landed the reused Falcon 9 booster on one of its drone ships in the Pacific Ocean, which means it could possibly be used again for a fourth time.

Details: The tiny satellites hitching a ride aboard the SpaceX rocket include 15 microsats and 49 CubeSats operated by government agencies, commercial companies and educational institutions. They include technology demonstrations and imaging satellites from 17 countries, including India, Jordan, Kazakhstan and the U.S.

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