SpaceX kicks off rocket launch double feature


It's not always been smooth sailing for Musk's space venture: In September, something went wrong during a routine test of the unmanned Falcon 9 rocket at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, resulting in an explosion that rocked the launch site.

SpaceX launched the Falcon 9 rocket through low-lying fog at 1:25 pm on June 25 pacific daylight time (PDT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Los Angeles.

It will take a few launches to get the full network into orbit.

About 2.5 minutes into the flight, the rocket's two stages separated, and the first stage began maneuvering its way back to Earth.

If you can't watch those two streams of SpaceX's triumph's not to worry. That recovery was also the most challenging successful landing so far for SpaceX, because of launch conditions.

SpaceX completed a "doubleheader" of launches June 25 with the launch of a second set of next-generation Iridium satellites from California, two days after another Falcon 9 from the East Coast.

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The craft was sent into orbit to put up ten Iridium satellites to improve mobile phone coverage.

All Iridium NEXT satellites will be launched on new Falcon 9 rockets - at least for now. Because the main body of the rockets are being reused, therefore saving money for the SpaceX.

The first stage landed on a SpaceX drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean after what SpaceX cautioned would be a "super challenging" landing attempt due to the high reentry loads for this particular flight profile.

This launch marks the second time SpaceX has successfully reflown a rocket booster, though both times they were retooled for the missions. The mission on Sunday did not use a pre-flown booster. The satellites were delivered into one of the six orbital pathways used by Iridium, already containing over 60 of the company's communications satellites. The landing was the first to use larger grid fins on the first stage to guide the rocket to the landing site.

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.