Liftoff! Used SpaceX Rocket Launches 10 Iridium Satellites Into Orbit

The Falcon 9 rocket being used for Friday's launch was previously used in October for an Iridium satellite mission, and it was successfully recovered for re-use.

A used Falcon 9 rocket is set to launch 10 Iridium telecommunications satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

A SpaceX rocket launched 10 more voice and data satellites for Iridium Communications, which is replacing its entire fleet with a new generation of orbiters.

Per the reports, SpaceX used an recovered first stage booster which was recovered and refurbished to be used as the first stage in the Friday launch.

SpaceX has not publicly confirmed that it will attempt to land a fairing half on Mr. Steven's net again, but tracking site MarineTraffic shows the ship left the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday.

SpaceX has been working to ideal the process of recovering rockets to reduce the cost of space missions.


To date, Iridium has completed five launches of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, all with SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base. That means it will need a grand total of eight launches to get them all into space, so it won't be very long until we hear about the next one.

According to Musk, SpaceX was unsuccessful in recovering the fairing. Enter Ms. Steven, a boat with a giant net which will hopefully catch the payload fairing.

This isn't the end of the road for the partnership between Iridium and SpaceX.

"Today, this is our fifth launch for the Iridium constellation, using only three rockets", SpaceX materials engineer Michael Hammersley said during live commentary.

SpaceX delivered its latest batch of Iridium Next satellites to orbit Friday morning, but stopped its live video feed nine minutes into the launch citing orders from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

In the last launch from Vandenberg, SpaceX on February 22 sent into orbit a Hisdesat PAZ satellite for Spain aboard a Falcon 9. It is scheduled to launch a cargo mission to the International Space Station from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Reacting to the issue, Musk said that helicopter drop tests would be conducted to solve the problem.

  • Tracy Klein