SpaceX will attempt the company's unprecedented 19th launch of the year on Monday, while also putting a US record 64 satellites in orbit at once. But in all fairness, the private rocket company had some help; its sole customer for this mission, SpaceFlight Industries, purchased exclusive access to the Falcon 9-the first time SpaceFlight Industries has done such a thing, as CNN reports.
The mission, dubbed SSO-A, or "SmallSat Express", is also SpaceX's first flight to reuse the Falcon 9 first-stage booster a third time. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9's first stage on the "Just Read the Instructions" droneship, which was stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
The mission from Vandenberg will be SpaceX's 19th launch of the year.
A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from at Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday, carrying a 64-satellite payload.
According to Myriota, the drifters monitor location, currents, sea surface water temperatures, and barometric pressure, and, in future, AIMS will be able to get oceanographic data every hour.
"Obviously, aesthetics are a minor factor in rocket design", SpaceX founder Elon Musk said in May, during the maiden launch of the Block 5 variant of the Falcon 9 rocket.
"Plan is to dry them out & launch again", he said. This mission consisted of deploying Merah Putih - a communications satellite that included 3D-printed components to reduce weight and costs - to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO). 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. In theory, B1047's second landing should by no means be the rocket's last: if Falcon 9 Block 5's first stage upgrades are as successful as they hoped to be, the rocket could well see a productive life of 100 launches or more between now and BFR's complete takeover. "Nothing wrong with a little swim", he added.
Today's launch was a milestone in this push, marking the first time that a Falcon 9 first stage had launched on three orbital missions. The overall record is 104, set in February 2017 by an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle.
While hitching a ride with larger payloads is considered the cheapest option for getting to space, many nascent rocket companies are promising lightweight rockets that can be mass produced and make cheap, frequent trips to orbit.
Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface.