SpaceX has launched a rocket packed with communication satellites.
The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off Monday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. On board were six advanced OG2 satellites for New Jersey-based Orbcomm. Eleven more of these satellites are to be launched in the coming year.
After stage separation, the Falcon 9's first stage lit up its rocket engines as part of a test aimed at paving the way for rocket recovery and reusability.
SpaceX's billionaire founder, Elon Musk, said in a Twitter update that the booster fired its engines and deployed its landing legs, "but lost hull integrity right after splashdown (aka kaboom)."
Meanwhile, the six OG2 satellites were successfully delivered to orbit by the Falcon's second stage. "6 for 6!" Orbcomm CEO Marc Eisenberg said via Twitter.
The 375-pound satellites will offer two-way data links to help customers track, monitor and control transportation and logistics assets, heavy equipment, oil and gas infrastructure, ships and buoys, and government-owned equipment.
The launch had been delayed repeatedly since May for technical and other reasons. California-based SpaceX also has been ferrying space station cargo for NASA using the Falcon 9 and its Dragon cargo capsule.
— The Associated Press and NBC News