SpaceX Falcon 9 Iridium Successfully Launches Wednesday


Private space company SpaceX launched from Cape Canaveral's cargo Falcon 9 rocket with ten satellites, Iridium NEXT.

SpaceX also made its fourth attempt at a first in spaceflight history: Recover a used fairing, which encloses the payload aboard a rocket.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base with the first Iridium Next satellites.

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10 Iridium NEXT satellites were launched to low earth orbit (LEO). Initially, 77 satellites were required to provide worldwide service, but the number is now reduced to 66.

The launch is taking off with 10 iridium next satellites tomorrow (Wednesday) morning at 4-39 a-m. The Iridium network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each containing 11 crosslinked satellites for a total of 66 in the operational constellation. There was a 40 percent chance of unfavorable weather occurring during the four-hour launch window.

Following the launch, the Falcon's first stage successfully returned to Earth and landed on a barge - named "Just Read the Instructions" - floating in the Pacific Ocean, as the company continues its process of reusing rockets to save money on future missions.

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The primary goal will be to deliver a group of satellites into orbit for its customer Iridium, a satellite operator that's building a next-generation communications network. "They did see the payload fairing coming down, but they were not able to catch it in the net". New satellites will replace outdated equipment. Five industry-leading companies have been selected by Iridium as Value Added Manufacturers for Iridium Certus, including Thales, Cobham, Rockwell Collins, L3 Communications and most recently, Gogo.

Wednesday's launch followed a launch from the opposite coast on Sunday and will be followed by another launch scheduled for early August.

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