SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Vandenberg


SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket has kicked off Seattle-based Spaceflight's first-ever dedicated rideshare mission, a satellite extravaganza that's created to place 64 spacecraft in low Earth orbit.

Monday's flight got underway at 10:32 a.m. PST (GMT-8; 1:32 p.m. EST) when the Falcon 9's nine Merlin 1C first stage engines ignited with a rush of flame and steaming exhaust, pushing the slender 130-foot-tall rocket away from pad 4-East at Vandenberg. SpaceX has postponed the rocket's mission since mid-November due to booster checks and bad weather at the lift-off area.

Sunday morning's launch attempt was postponed to allow for additional inspections of the rocket's second stage.

This is the second delay for the launch.

On Sunday, Space X announced on Twitter that it will send the reusable Falcon 9 booster on its third flight to space tomorrow. Minutes after launch, it touched down on a drone ship stationed out in the Pacific Ocean, christened "Just Read the Instructions".

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Talk about ride-sharing. The 64 satellites were launched from 34 organizations and was one of the largest satellite ride-sharing missions ever launched, and the most crowded single mission in United States history, according to Spaceflight, SpaceX's customer for the launch.

Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface. No SpaceX rocket has yet flown more than two missions.

While most smart devices use WiFi to connect to internet networks on the ground, many potentially trackable items exist and move across regions without internet access.

If these proof-of-concept missions are successful, SpaceX - which has mostly relied on contracts with NASA - will be poised to capture a whole new market.