SpaceX lands rocket's first stage on ship

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The mission illustrated the growing demand to launch small satellites, modern devices that some companies hope will empower an array of new businesses - from internet service to supply chain monitoring.

A Falcon 9 launches to orbit for an unprecedented third time. Minutes after launch, it touched down on a drone ship stationed out in the Pacific Ocean, christened "Just Read the Instructions".

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.

SSO-A mission logo. Image Credit SpaceX
SSO-A mission logo. Image Credit SpaceX

Today's successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California has resulted in four new records for SpaceX-a sure sign that the Elon Musk-led company, and the commercial space industry in general, is rapidly maturing. Reusing the nose cone, also known as the fairing, could save millions of dollars for each launch.

The team will try to work toward readying the rocket for the backup launch opportunity on Monday morning. "Nothing wrong with a little swim".

Monday's launch occurred around 10:34 a.m. on a mission dubbed Spaceflight SSO-A: SmallSat Express.

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"It includes 15 microsats and 49 cubesats from both commercial and government entities, of which more than 25 are from global organizations from 17 countries, including the United States, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Poland, Canada, Brazil and India", according to Spaceflight Industries.

They included Australia-based Fleet Space Technologies, which aims to connect remote devices to the internet via satellite.

One atypical payload onboard was Enoch, a cubesat from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and artist Tavares Strachan that is carrying the ashes of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., the first African American astronaut selected for a national space program. Full deployment into low Earth orbit is expected to take six hours.

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Spaceflight declined to release a full list of what satellites and payloads are launching aboard its mission.

One such company, US-based Rocket Lab, became the first to reach orbit, and has notched two missions so far.

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