SpaceX rocket launch carrying 64 satellites in massive rideshare mission

9 rocket launches carrying a Qatari communications satellite which will provide connectivity to Qatar and neigh

9 rocket launches carrying a Qatari communications satellite which will provide connectivity to Qatar and neigh

In the first of two rocket launches planned this week from Vandenberg, the Space Exploration Technologies Falcon 9 rocket blasted off at 10:34 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base.

One of the "cubesats", which are small, often-briefcase-sized satellites, carried the ashes of about 100 people ranging from veterans to space enthusiasts, according to the company behind the satellite.

Now, SpaceX and its workhorse vehicle is ready to set the record for most satellites launched by a single American rocket.

A Falcon 9 launches to orbit for an unprecedented third time. After launch, the first stage of the rocket made a successful landing on a barge - named "Just Read the Instructions" - floating in the Pacific Ocean, potentially setting the stage for a fourth use of the rocket.

This mission also marks a first for SpaceX: It's the first time the company has sent the same first-stage booster into space three times.

The Falcon 9 blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:34 a.m. local time (18:34 GMT) carrying satellites from 34 different companies, government agencies, and universities, including the University of IL.

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The same first stage was previously launched and recovered on missions in May and August.

With SpaceX taking responsibility for the launch of the Falcon 9, Spaceflight Industries handled "all the mission management planning, engineering, integration, mission assurance and system engineering processes, regulatory and policy procedures, contracting, and business development for the mission", the company said in a statement. Six months later a Russian Soyuz rocket launched 73 satellites, though a few of them were unresponsive after launch.

Musk said in a tweet Monday that the fairing halves "missed the net, but touched down softly in the water".

SpaceX did not webcast the deployment of the 64 satellites after the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage reached orbit, citing an absence of ground stations in view from the rocket to beam down video.

"Standing down from tomorrow's launch attempt of Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express to conduct additional inspections of the second stage".

Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface. A group of middle school students from Florida sent an experimental astrobiology satellite. Using a stack of payload dispensers split into upper and lower free-fliers, Spaceflight will deploy the satellites over the course of six hours.

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