SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket sent 10 more Iridium NEXT telecommunications satellites into space today from a fogged-in California pad, then executed a rough-and-tumble booster landing.
Today’s mission also featured an attempt to catch the rocket’s falling nose cone, using a boat equipped with a giant net. SpaceX said the effort was unsuccessful, in part because of the windy conditions at sea.
Liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base occurred on time at 4:39 a.m. PT, amid fog so thick that the two-stage rocket’s ascent could only be seen as a bright spot in the murk.
Minutes after launch, the Falcon 9’s second stage separated to continue the push to orbit, while the first stage maneuvered itself through a supersonic descent back down to a ship stationed hundreds of miles out in the Pacific Ocean.