Liftoff! Used SpaceX Rocket Launches 10 Iridium Satellites Into Orbit

Doug Carpenter
April 2, 2018

- Morning commuters in Los Angeles could be treated to an aerial spectacle Friday when Hawthorne-based SpaceX tries to launch a series of communications satellites into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of LA. Musk tweeted after the February 22 launch from Vandenberg that the boat missed catching the fairing "by a few hundreds meters", adding that the fairing slowed down enough to land "intact" in the Pacific Ocean. SpaceX made it clear that it will do experimental maneuver on the third stage, but it doesn't have any plans to recover it as it is replacing the older generation of rockets with newer ones.

SpaceX's next launch is scheduled for April 2, when another Falcon 9 rocket will be used in a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

SpaceX is well known for landing and reusing rocket boosters to bring down the price of its rockets, but this was one of the rare occasions Musk has acknowledged his rocket startup's attempts to recover the fairing after launch, the CNNMoney report said.

@IridiumBoss: We are having an issue with 1 of the 10 satellites in prep for #Iridium5. Six of the satellites will serve as on-orbit spares. Iridium has tapped SpaceX to launch 75 Iridium Next satellites to build up their communications constellation in orbit. Iridium, which plans to have all of its satellites launched by mid-2018, has partnered with Thales Alenia Space to manufacture, assemble and test them. He further added that the target was anticipated, however, the milestone was achieved much before than predicted.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which first flew in October 2017, launched the fifth set of Iridium Next satellites for Iridium Communications at 10:13 a.m. EDT (1413 GMT) - exactly one year to the day of SpaceX's first used Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing.

SpaceX was chosen to launch a constellation of 75 satellites in eight missions.

Originally scheduled to launch in December, the Iridium 5 mission had been pushed back multiple times to Thursday.

The completed satellite system will provide air traffic control organizations and aircraft operators real-time, global visibility of ADS-B equipped aircraft, in addition to providing telecommunications services to its customers around the world. Each launch strategically delivers new satellites to specific orbital planes to ensure the earliest possible completion of the constellation.

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