SpaceX to launch 10 satellites, attempt a fairing recovery
- Author: Megan Austin Apr 01, 2018,
Apr 01, 2018, 0:14
Following the Iridium-4 launch previous year, the first stage rocket made a successful landing aboard SpaceX's West Coast Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), however, it was not recovered again following its second flight on Friday.
SpaceX has confirmed successful deployment of all 10 communications satellites to low-Earth orbit after their launch aboard a a Falcon 9 on Friday, but the company reported a glitch in landing the $6 million nose cone into a giant seaborne net.
SpaceX, the master of reusable rocket technology, will be launching a used (sorry, "flight proven") Falcon 9 today, and will not be attempting to recover the booster. The first time around, SpaceX boss Elon Musk was optimistic that the failure to recover the fairing was due to circumstances which could be controlled in the future, and we'll see today if he was right. The constellation's name comes from the chemical element Iridium, which has atomic number 77, as the system was originally expected to require seventy-seven satellites to provide worldwide service.
Friday's rocket payload will include 10 satellites set to expand Iridium's communications bandwidth in space. They're planning on sending a total of 75 satellites into space by mid-2018. The launch scheduled at the end of April will mark the debut of Falcon 9 Block V which is the new generation of rockets made especially to be used for 10s and 100s of times after inspection and refurbishment.
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Starting an hour after launch, the satellites were released one by one approximately every 100 seconds, taking about 15 minutes to successfully complete delivery.
"GPS guided parafoil twisted, so fairing impacted water at high speed", Musk tweeted.
SpaceX did not immediately respond to Newsweek's inquiry about what would happen to the booster if it's not recovered.
In the last launch from Vandenberg, SpaceX on February 22 sent into orbit a Hisdesat PAZ satellite for Spain aboard a Falcon 9. The company is scheduled to launch a cargo mission to the International Space Station at 1:30 p.m. Monday from Cape Canaveral. Reacting to the issue, Musk said that helicopter drop tests would be conducted to solve the problem.