Singed and sooty, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket still looked brilliant Monday

SpaceX launch shows ‘steady stream’ of small-satellite customers

The Falcon 9 blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 10:34 a.m. Monday, arcing over the Pacific west of Los Angeles as it headed toward space.

If these proof-of-concept missions are successful, SpaceX - which has mostly relied on contracts with NASA - will be poised to capture a whole new market. The second stage, meanwhile, started its lone Merlin 1D Vacuum engine to continue in its mission to deliver the 64 passengers to orbit. Fifteen minutes after launching, the Falcon 9 first stage has landed on the Just Read the Instructions droneship-completing the rocket booster's third launch and landing this year.

'Eight of the satellites on board a Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base will be from companies hoping to build a truly global Internet of Things by revolutionizing satellite communications, ' Wired reported.

Not bad, SpaceX, not bad. The company has for years worked as a liaison between small satellite companies and launch providers, looking to put small payloads onto rockets with extra room on board.

Meanwhile, the second stage pressed deeper into space, carrying 15 micro-satellites and 49 CubeSats belonging to 34 different clients including public, private and university sources from 17 different countries including South Korea, France and Kazakhstan. The rocket will be carrying not one, not two, but 64 satellites on what was billed as a "ridesharing" mission.

Now, SpaceX and its workhorse vehicle is ready to set the record for most satellites launched by a single American rocket.

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When the Falcon 9 reached space today, its nose cone fell away, and the satellites began to emerge.

Six deployments occurred about 13 to 43 minutes after the launch, and Spaceflights will command its own deployments over a period of six hours, the release said.

"The mission. signifies the company's first dedicated rideshare mission to a sun-synchronous low-Earth orbit", Spaceflight said in a statement.

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. Instead, they rely on satellite phones and CB radios to communicate and coordinate their illegal activities.

Monday's launch also included an attempt to catch and recover the fairing, with a giant net stretched across a boat called Mr Steven. Instead, it landed on the ocean, a development that didn't seem to phase CEO Elon Musk.

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