SpaceX successfully completes back-to-back launches

Terry Joseph
June 27, 2017

The satellites launched over the weekend belong to the communications company Iridium.

Phase two of the weekend doubleheader launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Sunday.

The BulgariaSat-1 satellite took off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:10 p.m. EDT (1910 GMT), a live webcast showed.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shared that there was a good chance this rocket wouldn't survive its return because of the need to send BulgariaSat-1 to such a high orbit. Reduce the cost of access to space so that a small company in a small country can tap into the power of space communications.

On Sunday 25 June A second Falcon 9 launched from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California carrying 10 Iridium NEXT satellites.

This launch marks the second time SpaceX has successfully reflown a rocket booster, though both times they were retooled for the missions.

On Friday, a Falcon 9 launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Sunday's launch was the first rocket equipped with SpaceX's new titanium hypersonic grid fins, which are used to steer the rocket as it reenters the atmosphere.

The company, which was founded by the billionaire, made history in March when it launched and retrieved a rocket which had successfully returned after a previous launch. The first-stage booster landed about 7 minutes later.

The BulgariaSat-1 satellite launched Friday was built by SSL in Palo Alto and will provide communications services to Southeastern Europe.

The view from the droneship after the rocket's successful landing. That mission will be conducted with a previously un-used Falcon 9 rocket.

"Right now, it's two down with six more launches to go", Iridium Chief Executive Matt Desch said in a post-launch statement. Those satellites will be "slot swapped" into the operational constellation, replacing existing spacecraft, after several weeks of on-orbit tests and maneuvers.

The rocket booster was making its second trip, having first launched off the West Coast on January 14. The second rocket carried a payload of 10 new satellites for Iridium's voice and data relay network.

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