SpaceX Launches Upgraded Falcon 9 Carrying Canadian Satellite Cassiope Into Low-Earth Orbit

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The privately held Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s upgraded Falcon 9 rocket had a successful test launch on Sunday. The SpaceX Falcon 9 v.1.1 was carrying the Canadian Space Agency’s, or Agency’sspace weather satellite, Cassiope. SpaceX founder Elon Musk was optimistic about the future of the program and the plans to create a reusable rocket.

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Sunday’s launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, Calif., was the first flight of the upgraded Falcon 9 v.1.1 equipped with the new Merlin 1D engine, which delivers more thrust and thus enables the rocket to carry heavier payloads. For its first flight, Falcon 9 was carrying the Cascade SmallSat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer, or Cassiope, satellite.

The space weather satellite will begin its research mission, studying the effects of solar storms on Earth’s communications systems, next month, the Associated Press reported. According to CSA’s Twitter account, Cassiope was successfully launched into low-Earth orbit and was communicating with MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Ltd. (TSE:MDA).

Musk tweeted after the launch:

 

 

He also discussed another aspect of the Falcon 9 launch, namely, the rocket’s ability to reignite its engine to reduce its velocity before hitting the Pacific Ocean:

 

Despite the flameout, the SpaceX CEO believes the company is on the right path to reusing the first stage of the Falcon 9, the main rocket that contains the nine Merlin 1D engines and the propellant tanks. Before Falcon 9’s successful launch, SpaceX tested the reusable Grasshopper in August.

The Grasshopper rocket was able to launch vertically and fly sideways, so Musk tweeted:

 

A reusable Falcon 9 rocket would cut the cost of future launches. A video of the launch can be viewed below:

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