SpaceX's comeback launch was a success

Iridium is a top company in mobile voice and data satellite communications.

About nine minutes later, the first stage returned to Earth and landed successfully on a barge in the Pacific Ocean south of Vandenberg. The first image of the rocket was published by SpaceX in December 2016. Other companies have taken years to recover from the loss of a vehicle.

"The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium's next generation global satellite constellation", a SpaceX statement said.

SpaceX officials say they took corrective action on all possible causes of the September 1 accident that destroyed a Falcon 9 and a satellite on a Florida launch pad.

Falcon 9's last successful launch was in August, where it delivered the JCSAT-16 spacecraft to a Geostationary Transfer Orbit about 36,000 km from Earth.

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Saturday's launch comes more than 4 months after SpaceX lost not only a Falcon 9 but the Israeli-built AMOS-6 communications satellite which was supposed to assist Facebook in providing increased internet access across the African continent.

As important as the Falcon 9 launching was to Iridium, it was even more important for SpaceX after an in-flight failure in June 2015 and the dramatic on-pad explosion September 1 at Cape Canaveral.

Recovering these stages is key to SpaceX's mission of bringing down the cost of space flight, which serves its larger goal of making humanity an interplanetary species.

The stakes for SpaceX were high after a pair of accidents.

Each stage of Falcon 9 uses COPVs to store cold helium which is used to maintain tank pressure, and each COPV consists of an aluminum inner liner with a carbon overwrap. The company has three rocket models - the Falcon 9, the Falcon Heavy, and the Dragon - that it now deploys on contract missions, such as delivering cargo supplied to the International Space Station for NASA.

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"This will be a tough flight for us coming back after our event on September 1st", said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and COO. When pressurized, oxygen pooled in this buckle can become trapped; in turn, breaking fibers or friction can ignite the oxygen in the overwrap, causing the COPV to fail.

Today's launch marks an incredibly short turnaround for a rocket company following an accident.

But Shotwell is optimistic, saying earlier this week that no customers have abandoned SpaceX.

"The company is in a financially strong position and is well positioned for future growth", with $1 billion in cash and no debt, SpaceX chief financial officer Bret Johnson was quoted as saying.

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