Hawthorne-based aerospace company SpaceX carried out its second rocket launch of the week Wednesday, sending a classified satellite into orbit from Vandenberg Space Force Base on California’s Central Coast.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off around 12:30 p.m., soaring into clear blue skies over Southern California, and carrying with it a satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office.
About 10 minutes after the launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket landed back at Vandenberg, allowing it to be reused in future missions, thereby cutting flight costs.
The launch was the second of three planned this week by SpaceX. On Monday, the company launched an Italian Earth-observation satellite, dubbed COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation FM2, from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket used in that launch was also successfully returned to Earth, landing back at Cape Canaveral.
On Thursday, at 9:51 a.m. California time, SpaceX is scheduled to launch another Falcon 9 from Cape Canaveral, this time carrying a batch of 49 satellites as part of the company’s growing Starlink broadband-internet array.
The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket being used in Thursday’s launch has flown five previous missions, and SpaceX will attempt to recover it again, landing the rocket booster on a droneship named “A Shortfall of Gravitas” and floating in the Atlantic Ocean.