(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched the RadarSat Constellation Mission, carrying Canada’s new generation of Earth-observation satellites.
The Falcon 9 rocket and payload rumbled aloft at 7:17 a.m. local time Wednesday from foggy Vandenberg Air Force Base on California’s central coast. The three satellites are slated to deploy about 54 minutes after launch. SpaceX recovered the rocket’s first stage at a landing zone on the military base.
SpaceX set a company record last year with 21 launches for customers. Last month, the Hawthorne, California-based company sent up the first batch of its own satellites, a key step toward creating a space-based constellation that beams broadband to underserved areas across the globe.
Much of the focus in 2019 has been on the first flight with humans on board. SpaceX and Boeing Co. have contracts with NASA to ferry American astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew program.
SpaceX completed the Demo-1 flight of its “Crew Dragon” without humans on board in March. But in late April, the capsule was engulfed in flames and destroyed during a test, a mishap that probably will push back the commercial crew schedule. NASA and SpaceX are reevaluating target test dates.
(Updates with company tweet about recovering rocket’s first stage.)
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