Published: Tue, January 17, 2017
Research | By Elizabeth Houston

SpaceX Falcon 9 Successfully Launched

On Saturday, SpaceX successfully launched 10 satellites into orbit on one of its Falcon 9 rockets.

The two-stage rocket took off at 9:54 a.m. carrying a payload for Iridium Communications Inc. satellites. The rocket's first stage touched down upright on an unmanned drone ship miles offshore about 8 minutes later, a feat that SpaceX accomplished four times in 2016 and captured on the company's webcast.

SpaceX said investigators concluded the accident involved a failure of on of the three helium tanks inside the rocket's second-stage liquid oxygen tank.

"View of the payload dispenser following deployment of all 10 Iridium satellites!" "Rocket is stable on the droneship".

The satellites were deployed about an hour after launch.

Recovered Falcon rocket boosters in a hangar at the Kennedy Space Center.

The successful launch is seen as an important step in the SpaceX space program.

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SpaceX has successfully landed multiple rockets this way, on both land and water, as part of its effort to bring down the cost of space flight by re-using multimillion dollar components instead of jettisoning them in the ocean after launch.

The accident clouded the company's aggressive agenda, which includes beginning to ferry US astronauts into space next year, when it also plans to make its first voyage to Mars. The closely-held company has roughly 5000 employees.

The launch is the first in a seven-flight contract with Iridium worth $468.1 million, company spokeswoman Diane Hockenberry said.

Officials at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Air Force (USAF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), along with several industry experts, collaborated with SpaceX on an investigation.

The satellites were placed in a temporary orbit about 625km above the Earth, where they will be tested in the coming weeks, Iridium said in a statement.

Partial view of the Iridium NEXT satellites just before the deployment sequence begins.

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