Published: Sat, March 31, 2018
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Elon Musk's SpaceX launches 10 more satellites for Iridium

Elon Musk's SpaceX launches 10 more satellites for Iridium

A SpaceX Falcon 9 launcher rocketed into orbit Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, climbing away from a hillside launch complex just after sunrise with 10 Iridium communications satellites.

Liftoff occurred just after 7 am PT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and the primary mission went off without a hitch. The Falcon 9 turned toward the south, heading for a 388-mile-high (625-kilometer) polar orbit.

The satellites are part of an ultimate 75-satellite array being positioned for Iridium's "next-generation" communications system. For this mission, SpaceX used previously used Falcon 9 rocket.

The value of these fairings is about six million US dollars, and recovering and reusing them would save money for SpaceX.

The firm previously attempted to use the giant "claw boat" back in February, but missed catching the nose cone then as well.

"This truly is a testament to the trust our partners and customers have in our network, which is only going to continue growing as the deployment of the Iridium Next constellation nears completion", he added.

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Multiple companies are rushing to be the first to deploy satellite constellations to provide broadband data connections, taking advantage of advances in miniature electronics and batteries, as well as cheaper launch costs, to fill the globe's apparently endless demand for more connectivity.

Friday's launch involved a recycled first-stage booster, initially flown for the third Iridium Next mission in October and marked the second Iridium flight to reuse rocket stages.

The Iridium project, though less flamboyant, will replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites in one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history, Iridium has said. Each launch sent 10 satellites into orbit for Iridium. Space.com has reached out to SpaceX and NOAA for clarification.

Today's planned launch is the first of two planned by SpaceX in the next four days. SapceX has been working for a long time to ensure that its Falcon rockets can be used repeatedly, which will save a ton of money since SpaceX won't have to construct new rockets for each launch it performs.

The Dragon spacecraft are used as the final stage of SpaceX missions to resupply the International Space Station.

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