SpaceX successfully launches and lands a used rocket for the second time

Marlene Weaver
June 24, 2017

The first-stage rocket booster returned to the Pacific Ocean off San Diego, landing gently on a drone ship. It is only the second time SpaceX has re-used a Falcon 9 rocket stage to deliver a customer's cargo. The company on Sunday is scheduled to launch a series of communications satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The successful launch and recovery - the second time the California rocket builder has launched and recovered a first stage - is evidence of the growing maturity of the company's on-going effort to reduce launch costs by recovering, refurbishing and relaunching major rocket components. The Bulgariasat-1 satellite was built by Space Systems Loral (SSL), a leading provider of innovative satellites and space systems.

"BulgariaSat-1's payload includes 30 Broadcast Satellite Service (BSS) Ku-band transponders and two Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) Ku-band transponders, in order to meet the current demand for high quality HDTV and Ultra HDTV broadcasting, as well as various other communications applications".

The rocket's upper stage is carrying a Bulgarian geostationary communications satellite into orbit.

The second batch of 10 satellites is now scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California Sunday (June 25), making a weekend doubleheader for SpaceX.

The new launch date sets up what SpaceX is calling a "weekend doubleheader".

The year's not half over, and Elon Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp is about to launch more missions than it completed in all of 2016. And as costs come down, more companies gain access to the growing commercial space industry.

The launch site has an interesting history, since Apollo and Space Shuttle missions started there as well.

According to SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk, the Falcon 9 rocket booster was subject to the most punishing reentry into Earth's atmosphere of any of SpaceX's boosters during prior landing attempts, including the failed ones. He tweeted earlier on Friday that there was a "good chance" SpaceX wouldn't successfully recover the rocket because the mission requirements meant it would have a hard trip home.

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