SpaceX launches scientific and telecom satellites

SpaceX Falcon launch
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. (SpaceX via YouTube)

A refurbished SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sent two gravity-mapping satellites and five satellites for Iridium’s next-generation telecommunications network into orbit today on its second go-round.

The soot-smudged first-stage booster previously flew in January to launch Zuma — a secret national security satellite project that apparently went awry after ascent due to a problem with a payload adapter that was provided by Northrop Grumman, the satellite’s manufacturer.

No such problem arose with the booster, back then or today. The rocket rose from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 12:47 p.m. PT after a problem-free countdown.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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