SPACEX LAUNCHES BIGGEST US ‘RIDE-SHARE’ MISSION

Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from California on Monday carrying 64 small satellites into low orbit around the Earth, which the company called the largest-ever “rideshare” mission by a U.S.-based rocket.

The mission, dubbed SSO-A, also marked the third voyage to space for the same Falcon 9 rocket — another milestone for SpaceX’s cost-cutting reusable rocket technology.

The Falcon 9 blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:34 a.m. local time (18:34 GMT) carrying satellites from 34 different companies, government agencies, and universities, including the University of Illinois.

SpaceX said the mission was “one of the most complex and intricate endeavors” for Seattle-based start-up Spaceflight, the ride-share company that arranged passage for each satellite maker.

The mission comes days after India fired a rocket carrying 31 satellites into space.

After the launch, the Falcon 9’s first-stage booster returned to earth as planned, landing on a ship off the coast of Southern California, according to a live video of the flight.