SpaceX postpones rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base

Pablo Tucker
December 4, 2018

One of the "cubesats", which are small, often-briefcase-sized satellites, carried the ashes of about 100 people ranging from veterans to space enthusiasts, according to the company behind the satellite.

This mission also gave ride-sharing a new meaning.

For the first time, a single orbital-class rocket booster has been used for three missions, pushing a payload into space and then returning safely to Earth each time.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the new "block 5" stages are designed fly dozens of times with minimal refurbishment between launchings, a key element in the company's drive to lower launch costs by recovering and re-flying the Falcon 9's first stage.

Reusing rockets over and over is key to Elon Musk's vision of cheaper, more rapid launches to orbit. The company also hoped to recover one or both of the rocket's protective payload fairing using a huge net on a ship known as "Mr. Steven".

Sunday morning's launch attempt was postponed to allow for additional inspections of the rocket's second stage.

The payload of the Spaceflight SSO-A SmallSat Express includes satellites from 34 organizations in 17 countries.

SpaceX did not webcast the deployment of the 64 satellites after the Falcon 9 rocket's second stage reached orbit, citing an absence of ground stations in view from the rocket to beam down video.

"It includes 15 microsats and 49 cubesats from both commercial and government entities, of which more than 25 are from worldwide 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.

Among the satellites crammed into the payload stack was an Australian-built device that will connect remote devices to the internet, and a pair of SkySats-one from the US and one from Finland-that'll be used to track planes and ships.

Organized by Spaceflight Industries, the satellites aboard the rocket come from 34 organizations and will be released into a "sun-synchronous low Earth orbit".

About half an hour after launch, SpaceX confirmed that four satellites were deployed from the payload stack. One of these interstellar-bound objects will also pay tribute to Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., the first African -American astronaut.

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