SpaceX Rocket Carries Fifth Set of Iridium Satellites From Vandenberg AFB

Mar 31, 2018, 07:48
SpaceX Rocket Carries Fifth Set of Iridium Satellites From Vandenberg AFB

SpaceX now has U.S. permission to fly 4,425 satellites in a swarming constellation to deliver internet service to consumers below-more than tripling the number of active satellites in orbit around the earth.

The private space firm SpaceX today launched with a partially-reused rocket the latest group of communication satellites to upgrade mobile, voice and data networks for Virginia-based firm Iridium.

SpaceX did not attempt its signature move on Friday by landing the first-stage rocket booster.

The final day of the work week got off to a thunderous start on the Central Coast, thanks to the successful launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

In one departure from typical SpaceX launches, the company cut the live video feed from the Falcon 9 second stage about 9 minutes into the flight.

'GPS guided parafoil twisted, so fairing impacted water at high speed, ' Musk tweeted two hours after the launch.

Although no first-stage booster recovery is planned by the company for this launch, SpaceX will attempt to capture the rocket's fairing using what has been generically termed a "catchers mitt" installed on the ship (named "Mr. Steven") which was developed to enfold the nose cone prior to ocean envelopment. After multiple delays, the Iridium-5 mission was set back by 3 months as it was originally scheduled for December 2017. Currently, a typical Falcon 9 launch costs around 62 million US dollars, according to the company.

"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.

The company plans to have a total of 75 satellites launched into orbit by mid-2018. The company built 81 satellites with plans to keep nine in space as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares. Each launch sent 10 satellites into orbit for Iridium. The process of replacing the satellites one by one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before. Another used Falcon 9 rocket will launch an uncrewed Dragon cargo ship, which has also flown previously, to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.