American aerospace transportation services provider SpaceX, on Friday successfully launched the fifth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites for Iridium Communications. The satellites were launched into orbit on board Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from the station at 7.13 am and placed the satellites into the Earth’s orbit about an hour later. The launch engaged a previously used rocket. All 10 new satellites have successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operations Centre and are preparing to begin testing, Iridium said in a press release.
This launch is yet another major feat for Elon Musk’s aerospace company. The Friday launch was one of the eight launches that are scheduled for the Virginia-based Iridium Communications to put a total of eight Iridium NEXT launches are currently planned with SpaceX delivering a total of 75 new satellites to orbit as part of a $3 billion project.
Falcon 9’s first stage for the Iridium-5 mission previously supported the Iridium-3 mission from SLC4E in October 2017. However, Musk's company confirmed that it will not attempt to recover Falcon 9’s first stage after launch. “This time there was no attempt to recover the first stage but it was to perform a simulated landing over the ocean,” said Michael Hammersley, a SpaceX materials engineer serving as launch spokesman.
For those uninitiated, Iridium NEXT is enabling the development of new and innovative products and services including Iridium CertusSM, the company’s next-generation communications platform replacing the company's existing global constellation in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space.