The first ever successful launch and safe return and retrieval of the booster, after mission accomplished, happened in December 2015 for SpaceX. The success of the operation of carrying and launching the payload in space was surely an occasion to rejoice; however, it had happened before on numerous occasions.
The most significant and triumphant aspect of the mission for Elon Musk and the SpaceX team was the safe return and retrieval of the booster which had never happened before for SpaceX until December 2015; although Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin had successfully achieved this feat of safe return and retrieval earlier with its “New Shepard” mission.
Ever since that momentous day in December 2015, SpaceX achieved six successful launches and booster retrievals until the tragic explosion of Falcon 9 along with its payload in September 2016 and a re-launch was scheduled for January 2017.
Of course, an enquiry into the disaster was initiated and SpaceX investigators were able to narrow down the cause of last year’s pre-launch testing catastrophe at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to a malfunction of one of three helium tanks inside the rocket’s second-stage liquid oxygen tank as reported by Associated Press (AP).
“SpaceX announced this month that investigators concluded the accident involved a failure of one of three helium tanks inside the rocket’s second-stage liquid oxygen tank,” reported AP.
However, true to their word of a re-launch in January 2017, Elon Musk and the SpaceX team achieved their seventh successful launch and booster retrieval on Saturday, January 14, 2017.
The Falcon9 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, on Saturday, with a payload of 10 satellites launching the “Iridium-1” mission on behalf of Iridium Communications Inc. headquartered in McLean, Virginia. It is a voice and data communications company which operates Iridium satellite constellations providing voice and data coverage to satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers covering the entire surface of the earth.
The successful launch and retrieval not only by Elon Musk’s SpaceX but also Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin mean retrieved boosters can be used multiple times for launching different payloads into orbit, thereby, making such missions much more economical and feasible for other space-related ventures.
As far as SpaceX is concerned there are reports that they have a minimum of seventy scheduled launches in the not too distant future involving a mind-blowing US$10 billion.
In addition to commercial space launches like the seventh launch for Iridium, SpaceX is also involved in carrying space supplies to the International Space Station (ISS).
Reportedly, they are also working on space capsule technology designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.
With the rapid development being witnessed in space technology in the 21st century along with NASA’s involvement, assistance, and expertise, colonization of Mars, commercial space flight services, space hotels, amusement parks and much more are appearing more and more as distant, and in some cases not too distant, realities.
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