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SpaceX Rocket Blasts Off Carrying Space Weather Satellite

Image: SpaceX Rocket Blasts Off Carrying Space Weather Satellite

By Michael Mullins   |   Monday, 30 Sep 2013 07:13 AM

A SpaceX rocket was successfully launched from California's Vandenberg Air Force Station on Sunday, propelling a Canadian satellite into orbit where it will track space weather.

Billed as a test flight, the Falcon 9 rocket shot into the sky at approximately 9 a.m. about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles, the Associated Press reported.

Atop the rocket was the Canadian Space Agency's CASSIOPE satellite, which will monitor space storms and the earth's upper atmosphere to provide better information on the impact of cosmic and solar radiation on the Earth, Forbes magazine reported.

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The CASSIOPE satellite is the first commercial enterprise being launched with the upgraded Falcon 9, which underwent five recent test launches in Florida and is now outfitted with engines that are 60 percent more powerful than the previous version.

Additional upgrades to the Falcon 9 rocket includes longer all around fuel tanks and a fuel tank arrangement that allows for one tank to fail without affecting the others.

The Falcon 9 rocket has already been launched successfully on several missions to the International Space Station, where SpaceX has delivered NASA cargo to the permanently staffed research outpost that flies about 250 miles above Earth.

Sunday's launch is the first of several schedule launches SpaceX will execute for the Canadian Space Agency, since having won a contract with the organization in July.

The reason the launch was described as a test flight is because SpaceX intends to develop the Falcon 9 into a reusable rocket, which it currently is not, so that it can be used to make roundtrip and multiple launches, there by saving the company a substantial amount of money in the long run.

SpaceX has reportedly said that Sunday's mission allowed it to gather data from the "test launch" which it will use to make the Falcon 9 a reusable rocket.

Shortly after the launch on Sunday, SpaceX CEO and cofounder, billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, shared his support for the accomplishment via Twitter, while alluding to his company's ultimate goal of making the rocket reusable.

There are four more missions scheduled this year for the SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

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