SpaceX ended a four-and-a-half month hiatus in its operations by successfully launching a Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Saturday. The launch, which is the first since Sept.1, delivered 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for the communications company Iridium.
The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 that SpaceX will launch for Iridium’s global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, over the next 14 months.
Successful deployment of 10 @IridiumComm NEXT satellites has been confirmed.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 14, 2017
In addition to clinching the launch, SpaceX also successfully landed the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, setting it down on a drone ship named “Just Read the Instructions” off the coast of California. Landing and reusing recovered boosters is a key part of the company’s ambitious space program, as it would drastically reduce the cost of launches and space travel.