SpaceX launches first rocket since explosion

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 rocket for the first time since a fireball engulfed a similar rocket on a Florida launch pad more than four months ago.

   The two-stage rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, on Saturday morning to place 10 satellites into orbit for Iridium Communications Inc.

   About nine minutes later, the first stage returned to Earth and landed successfully on a barge in the Pacific Ocean south of Vandenberg.

   SpaceX officials say they identified all possible causes of the Sept. 1 accident and took corrective action. The company's rockets were grounded during the investigation.

   The return to flight is an important step for SpaceX, a California-based company that has about 70 launches in line, worth more than $10 billion.

 The Associated Press contributed to this report.