Elon Musk's SpaceX launches first rocket since launch pad explosion

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off around 5.54pm Irish time

Elon Musk's SpaceX launches first rocket since launch pad explosion

Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk | Image: PA Images

Space X, founded by billionaire Tesla Motors boss Elon Musk, has launched its first rocket since a launch pad explosion destroyed more than $200m of equipment.

The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5.54pm Irish time to put 10 satellites into orbit for the Iridium communications company.

It landed vertically on a platform at sea shortly after sending its payload into orbit.

The mission tested changes made after another Falcon 9 exploded in Florida last September during a routine pre-flight test.

A $200m Israeli communications satellite and a $62m SpaceX booster were destroyed in the explosion.

The accident was a huge blow to the company’s ambitions to start ferrying US astronauts into space by next year, when it also plans to make its first unmanned voyage to Mars.

Today's flight will begin to clear a jam of more than 70 missions awaiting flights on SpaceX rockets, which last flew in August.

SpaceX has also lost several rockets while trying to land them upright on ocean platforms.

The company had planned to launch the rocket a week ago but bad weather forced it to cancel its plans.
It aims to launch 27 rockets in 2017, more than triple the eight flights it managed in 2016, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.