SpaceX opens a "weekend doubleheader" with eighth successful rocket launch of 2017

And the company may surpass its 2016 total on Sunday, when it is scheduled to launch another mission. SpaceX is aiming to achieve 20 to 24 missions total before the year is out.

Tyler Henderson | Jun 26, 2017

   

SpaceX sent another Falcon 9 rocket mission into space on Friday and successfully recovered its rocket booster for re-use. With this launch, the eighth successful launch that SpaceX has performed in 2017, the company has already launched as many missions since the year began as it launched in all of 2016.

And the company may surpass its 2016 total on Sunday, when it is scheduled to launch another mission. SpaceX is aiming to achieve 20 to 24 missions total before the year is out.

"SpaceX is coming back gangbusters," Luigi Peluso, an aerospace analyst with AlixPartners, said in an interview with Bloomberg. "Elon has demonstrated that the concept of re-using rockets is feasible."

Friday's launch lifted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and delivered a BulgariaSat-1 satellite into Earth orbit. After launch, the rocket's booster made an expected detachment from the main rocket fuselage and landed on an unmanned drone ship waiting for it in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX will refurbish the booster and use it on a future rocket mission.

This isn't the booster's first round of recovery and reuse, eitherit was a component of another SpaceX launch earlier in the year. Musk has championed the concept of rocket reusability as a way to make space flight economical.

"It's starting to feel kinda normal to reuse rockets. Good. That's how it is for cars and airplanes and how it should be for rockets," Musk tweeted earlier this month.

Next on SpaceX's agenda is a Sunday, June 25 mission that will take 10 satellites into orbit, all made by Iridium Communications. It will take off from the Vandenburg Air Force Base in California. If this launch succeeds, it will be the first time SpaceX has sent two rockets to space in one weekend.

"Could be a weekend doubleheader," the company tweeted last weekend.

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