SpaceX launched Ireland’s first satellite and a South Korean reconnaissance satellite today.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched at 1:19 p.m. EST (1819 GMT or 10:10 a.m. PST) from Vandenberg Space Force Base on the California coast. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket landed at Landing Zone 4 at Vandenberg around 8 minutes after lift off in what was the company’s 250th successful recovery of an orbital class rocket.

SpaceX stopped their livestream after stage separation at the request of today’s customers; no views of the rocket’s second stage were offered.

On board was a total of 25 satellites. One is the Educational Irish Research Satellite-1 (EIRSAT-1) built by students from University College Dublin following a 2017 proposal. Also on board was the first South Korean spy satellite in a set of five that SpaceX has been contracted to complete launching by 2025.

Related: North Korea rocket explodes during spy satellite launch, and meteor hunters caught it on camera: report

a rocket on a landing pad with four legs extended

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands after launching the Korea 425 mission. It was the company’s 250th successful recovery of a booster. (Image credit: SpaceX via X)

The South Korean satellite, called 425 Project EO/IR, the initial satellite will be 1,700 pounds (800 kg) in mass and include abilities in infrared (heat-seeking wavelengths) as well as electro-optical capabilities, SpaceNews reported in 2022. The South Korean satellite is set to launch into space just days after North Korea claimed to have deployed its own spy satellite in space from a Nov. 24 launch.

EIRSAT-1’s payloads were supported by the European Space Agency Academy’s Fly Your Satellite program. Its payloads include a gamma ray detector, an evaluation of protective coatings, and a rare kind of attitude control system that orients itself with the Earth’s magnetic field, according to satellite’s website.

Some of the team ready to watch the launch in California! 🚀#EIRSAT1 #irelandsfirstsatellite #flyyoursatellite #launchday pic.twitter.com/efoZ2g90GMDecember 1, 2023

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Also onboard were a variety of commercial satellites including Space BD’s ISL48, SITAEL’s microHETSat, D-Orbit’s ION SCV Daring Diego, York Space Systems’ Bane, and PlanetIQ’s GNOMES-4.

The mission will be the 88th launch for SpaceX in 2023 and the 84th launch this year with the Falcon 9. (The others used the company’s much larger Falcon Heavy or Starship rockets.)

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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth’s reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, “Why Am I Taller?”, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada’s Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada’s Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada’s Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace

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