The private space exploration company headed by Tesla CEO Elon Musk launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:54 a.m. PT, taking 10 satellites into space for voice and data company Iridium.
The launch’s success Saturday was made even sweeter by a smooth return landing for the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage booster. It safely returned from space and glided to a landing on a seafaring platform, known as a drone ship.
Because rockets are worth tens of millions of dollars, and they have historically been discarded after launch, mastering the landing is key to making space travel more affordable.
Saturday’s launch marks the seventh time SpaceX has successfully landed a rocket.
A little more than an hour after launch, Musk announced that all 10 Iridium satellites were successfully deployed into orbit. Iridium is using the satellites to develop a revamped voice and data communications network, dubbed NEXT.
Iridium says NEXT “will replace the world’s largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites in what will be one of the largest ‘tech upgrades in history.'”
SpaceX’s highly anticipated launch was initially scheduled for Monday, but flight plans were canceled because of high winds and rain.
In September, a rocket carrying a satellite to be used by Facebook to bring Internet access to remote areas of the world exploded while awaiting launch.
Facebook is in a partnership with French satellite firm Eutelsat Communications. The satellite, called Amos 6, was owned by Israeli company Spacecom.