Relativity Space, a startup that was born in Seattle but grew up in Los Angeles, says it has signed an agreement to develop launch facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and a contract with Iridium to launch satellites from those facilities.
The flurry of announcements marks a significant expansion for a company that barely existed five years ago but has raised $185 million since then.
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.
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.
Another 10 next-generation Iridium telecommunications satellites were sent into orbit today aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
This makes the fifth set of 10, out of a total of 75 that SpaceX is putting in orbit for the Iridium NEXT constellation.
The two-stage rocket lifted off at 7:13 a.m. PT into a clear California sky, sparking sightings by the likes of actress Bo Derek. “Congratulations @SpaceX #liftoff from my backyard,” the star of the movie “10” tweeted.
SpaceX has sent 10 more satellites into orbit for the Iridium NEXT constellation, passing the halfway point in its 75-satellite launch contract.
The satellites went into space aboard a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket launched at 5:27 p.m. PT today from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and were deployed sequentially into pole-to-pole orbits.
The first-stage booster was initially used for an Iridium mission in June, and then was recovered and refurbished for today’s launch. The contrail that was created during the booster’s descent provided a spectacle that was visible in sunset skies throughout Southern California.
SpaceX launched its third batch of 10 Iridium Next communications satellites from California today on a Falcon 9 rocket, then brought down the first-stage booster for a landing on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.
The launch was the first of two planned this week by SpaceX.
Today’s Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:37 a.m. PT, loaded up with satellites that are destined to become part of Iridium’s $3 billion next-generation constellation for broadband data services.
The constellation will eventually comprise 66 operational satellites, plus orbital spares. SpaceX sent up two earlier batches of 10, in January and June, as part of an eight-launch deal with Iridium.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off for the first time in five months to put 10 advanced Iridium Next telecommunication sateliites in orbit – and demonstrate that the company’s innovative launch-and-landing system was back in stride.
Cheers went up from a crowd of hundreds of SpaceX employees at the company’s headquarters as they watched the rocket ascend from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 9:54 a.m. PT. The cheers rose again minutes later when the Falcon 9’s first stage landed on a drone ship in the Pacific for the first time.
As SpaceX prepares for its first Falcon 9 rocket launch in five months, a new report about the company’s finances is pointing to the importance of getting back to routine operations – and the importance of SpaceX’s satellite operation in the Seattle area.
Today’s report in The Wall Street Journal is based on a look at the privately held company’s internal financial documents. Those documents indicate that the company lost $260 million on revenues of nearly $1 billion in 2015.