Science & Technology

SpaceX Successfully Launches 7 Satellites From Used Falcon 9 Rocket

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| May 23 , 2018 , 15:16 IST

US private space firm SpaceX on Tuesday successfully launched a used Falcon 9 rocket carrying a total of 7 satellites, namely, 2 new Earth-observing satellites for NASA and 5 commercial communications satellites for American communications firm Iridium in a ride-share mission.

NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites were deployed around 11 minutes and 30 seconds after launch of the Falcon 9, the US space agency confirmed. The GRACE-FO satellites are a replacement for an earlier pair that spent 15 years measuring changes in Earth's oceans, glaciers and ice sheets and how water is distributed globally.

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An hour after the launch, 5 Iridium NEXT satellites were deployed, as a part of the telecommunication company's campaign to reduce the world's largest commercial satellite network. Iridium has signed up with Elon Musk's SpaceX for a total of 8 Iridium NEXT launches to place a total of 75 new satellites into orbit.

The Falcon 9 first stage used on Tuesday had been previously used to launch the US Air Force's classified Zuma mission in January, and while the mission was lost, SpaceX was able to recover the first stage for reuse. After the latest launch, the first stage has not been recovered again for reuse.

The launch marks the 56th launch of the Falcon 9 line and the 10th launch made by SpaceX in this year so far.

SpaceX's successive achievements have highlighted the opportunities for private sector in space exploration and launches, a field which was earlier the domain of governments only.