It was the fifth set of 10 satellites that SpaceX has launched for Iridium, whose $3 billion projects is expected to include a total of 81 satellites - with 75 launched by SpaceX.
- Morning commuters in Los Angeles could be treated to an aerial spectacle Friday when Hawthorne-based SpaceX tries to launch a series of communications satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of LA.
The Iridium-NEXT satellites were launched for McLean, Virginia-based satellite operator Iridium Communications.
Elon Musk tweeted on his Twitter handle about the attempt to catch the payload fairing which is the nose-cone shaped cover that protects the satellites during the flight and cost of $5 million to $6 million which is why SpaceX tried to catch it.
Friday's launch is also the second of two missions that Iridium switched from a brand-new Falcon 9 to a Falcon with a first stage that had been previously flown and successfully recovered.
That rocket is scheduled to lift off Monday afternoon from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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While SpaceX typically provides live video of its non-classified launches through payload separation, SpaceX ended Friday's video feed shortly before the rocket's second-stage engine stopped firing.
"We're working with NOAA to address these restrictions in order to hopefully be able to bring you live views from orbit in the future", the SpaceX engineer said.
SpaceX is well known for landing and reusing rocket boosters to bring down the price of its rockets, but this was one of the rare occasions Musk has acknowledged his rocket startup's attempts to recover the fairing after launch, the CNNMoney report said. Space.com has reached out to SpaceX and NOAA for clarification. The mission lasted approximately 75 minutes. Three more launches are planned this year to help complete Iridium's global satellite constellation.
Falcon 9 fairings have thrusters that can guide it using Global Positioning System back toward a target then use parafoils - a type of parachute that works in high altitudes - to slow it down and have it land on nets held open by a ship with a "giant mitt" called Mr Steven.
"It's a giant steel and webbing catcher's mitt superstructure on a high-speed ocean ship".
"GPS guided parafoil twisted, so fairing impacted water at high speed", Musk tweeted.