Elon Musk’s aerospace company SpaceX successfully launched two payloads into orbit over the weekend, and then landed the first-stage booster from each rocket onto one of the company’s drone ships.
On Friday, SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying the first telecommunications satellite for the country of Bulgaria from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The first stage booster for that rocket — which had already been launched, landed, and refurbished once before — was successfully manoeuvred down for a safe landing on a barge called “Of Course I Still Love You”.
On Sunday, SpaceX launched another Falcon 9 carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications from Vandenberg Air Force Base, located northwest of Los Angeles. The first stage booster from that rocket was landed on the ship “Just Read the Instructions,” which was floating in the Pacific.
These events marked the fastest turnaround for SpaceX launches from two different sites, according to Spaceflight Now. SpaceX’s continued success with landing and re-using boosters could save the company and its customers millions of dollars.
Here’s what the historic weekend launches looked like.
That launch was supposed to happen four days earlier, but a valve on the fairing (the part of the rocket protecting the payload) needed to be replaced. That delay set SpaceX up for the weekend doubleheader.
The ability to re-use rocket parts could save SpaceX and its customers millions of dollars on each launch.
It was the first mission to use upgraded titanium fins to steer the first stage of the rocket back to Earth. The fins are designed to make it easier for boosters to land in windy weather.
After the second launch, Musk said in a tweet that SpaceX is getting closer to recovering the rocket fairings for further re-use as well.
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