SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket completes historic third launch and landing

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Now, SpaceX and its workhorse vehicle is ready to set the record for most satellites launched by a single American rocket.

The Falcon 9's first stage landed successfully on an off-shore drone ship - the "Just Read The Instructions" - in SpaceX's 32nd recovery of a spent booster.

For the first time, a single orbital-class rocket booster has been used for three missions, pushing a payload into space and then returning safely to Earth each time.

Prior to the cancellation, the Falcon 9 rocket was scheduled for liftoff at 10.32am PST on Sunday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk says the new "block 5" stages are designed fly dozens of times with minimal refurbishment between launchings, a key element in the company's drive to lower launch costs by recovering and re-flying the Falcon 9's first stage.

With SpaceX taking responsibility for the launch of the Falcon 9, Spaceflight Industries handled "all the mission management planning, engineering, integration, mission assurance and system engineering processes, regulatory and policy procedures, contracting, and business development for the mission", the company said in a statement. Reusing the nose cone, also known as the fairing, could save millions of dollars for each launch. It's not the largest launch ever - The Verge noted that an Indian rocket carried 104 satellites into orbit. "Nothing wrong with a little swim".

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A SpaceX rocket carrying 64 small satellites has lifted off from California with a first stage that has been used twice before.

Today's mission, dubbed the SSO-A: SmallSat Express, included 15 "microsats" and 49 "cubesats".

SpaceX's customer for the SSO-A mission, Spaceflight, aims to be a sort of Uber service for space.

Some of those smaller satellites aim to build an internet network capable of supporting smart devices back on Earth's surface.

About half an hour after launch, SpaceX confirmed that four satellites were deployed from the payload stack.

Organized by Spaceflight Industries, the satellites aboard the rocket come from 34 organizations and will be released into a "sun-synchronous low Earth orbit".

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