SpaceX launches final 10 satellites for Iridium

12 Janvier, 2019, 21:21 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • An early-morning rocket launch traces an arc of light across the horizon

"Iridium is the only satellite communications network that spans the entire globe and Iridium NEXT is one of the largest "tech upgrades" in space history", SpaceX said in a statement. The rocket carried Iridium 8 satellites into orbit. Including new boosters that have arrived at their launch pads but have yet to launch, SpaceX's skilled production and testing team managed to ship, test, and deliver an impressive 1 to 1.5 Falcon 9 boosters, 1-2 upper stages, and 3-4 payload fairing halves on average each month.

SpaceX still plans to launch its Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:31 a.m. on Friday, as long as the weather holds.

Friday's launch was SpaceX's eighth and final in a series for Iridium, which is headquartered in Virginia. The rocket's first stage landed safely on SpaceX's "Just Read the Instructions" droneship in the Pacific Ocean.

It was previously used in a launch last September from Florida.

Regardless, this ultimately means that SpaceX's reusable Falcon fleet could feature as many as 12-15 boosters capable of something like 5-10 additional launches each by the second half of fourth quarter of 2019.

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In an image made from the SpaceX webcast, a spacecraft deploys the final set of Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit, January 11, 2019.

At two minutes 27 seconds after lift-off the first stage was shut down, and the second stage fired up, sending Iridium's birds to space during a 15-minute deployment nearly an hour later. "The process of replacing the satellites one by one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before".

If successful, Iridium will have a total of 75 new satellites in orbit, including nine spares.

The first Iridium satellites were launched in the 1990s to offer voice, data, fax and paging services to customers with Iridium handheld telephones and pagers.

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