SpaceX rocket in first blast off since explosion

Elon Musk's SpaceX has launched a rocket for the first time since a launch pad explosion destroyed more than $200m of equipment.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5.54pm UK time to put 10 satellites into orbit for the Iridium communications company.

It landed vertically on a platform at sea shortly after sending its payload into orbit.


SpaceX rocket in first blast off since explosion


Video: Explosion At Florida Rocket Launch Site

The mission tested changes made after another Falcon 9 exploded in Florida last September during a routine pre-flight test.

A $200m Israeli communications satellite and a $62m SpaceX booster were destroyed.

Accident investigators concluded that a canister of helium burst inside the rocket's second-stage liquid oxygen tank, which sparked an explosion.


SpaceX rocket in first blast off since explosion

Image Caption: The rocket landed upright on a base in the sea after deploying the satellites

The accident was a huge blow to the company’s ambitions to start ferrying US astronauts into space by next year, when it also plans to make its first unmanned voyage to Mars.

Today's flight will begin to clear a jam of more than 70 missions awaiting flights on SpaceX rockets, which last flew in August.


SpaceX rocket in first blast off since explosion

Image Caption: The Falcon 9 rocket is the power behind SpaceX's ambitions

SpaceX, founded by billionaire Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk, has also lost several rockets while trying to land them upright on ocean platforms.

The company had planned to launch the rocket a week ago but bad weather forced it to cancel its plans.

It aims to launch 27 rockets in 2017, more than triple the eight flights it managed in 2016, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.



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