SpaceX launch: Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (KABC) -- SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base Friday morning.

The mission took off at 7:13 a.m. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasted off, carrying 10 satellites to be set into orbit as part of the Iridium-5 NEXT Mission.

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SpaceX launched its Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base Friday morning.

This mission has a long-term plan in place. The communications company plans to eventually link those 10 with 65-other satellites, which will create a communications constellation in orbit. Irdium bought eight Falcon 9 launches for about $536 million to complete its project.

All of the satellites are expected to be positioned in orbit by the middle of the year.

The Falcon 9 rocket used in Friday's launch was previously used in October for an Iridium satellite mission, and it was successfully recovered for re-use.

SpaceX has said it will not attempt to recover the rocket after Friday's launch. But it is expected to try to recover the rocket's "fairing," otherwise known as the rocket's nosecone. The goal is to save the equipment, which costs $6 million.

So how is SpaceX going to do that? Enter Mr. Steven, a boat with a giant net which will hopefully catch the payload fairing. SpaceX founder and owner Elon Musk described Mr. Steven as a "catcher's mitt" in boat form.

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A launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in August appeared to have torn a hole through Earth's atmosphere.

The company attempted such a recovery during a launch in February, but the fairing missed the net by "a few hundred meters." The fairing did land intact in the ocean, thanks to parachutes that slowed its descent.

SpaceX has not publicly confirmed that it will use Mr. Steven again, but the ship did leave the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday. It was not clear if Mr. Steven was successful on Friday.

Friday's launch is the first of two planned by SpaceX in the next four days. It is scheduled to launch a cargo mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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