SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches 10 communications satellites

Falcon 9 rocket at Vandenberg AFB

Ready for an early morning spectacle? SpaceX rocket launch still on for Friday | The Tribune

After being rescheduled several times, the Falcon 9 rocket officially launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) on Friday morning.

"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 booster used on today's mission had previously launched the Telstar 18 VANTAGE satellite in September of previous year, landing in the Atlantic on droneship "Of Course I Still Love You".

The next launch window was tentatively planned for January 8, and eventually pushed to Friday.

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Minutes after liftoff, the first-stage booster separated and made an at-sea touchdown on a drone landing ship called "Just Read the Instructions", hundreds of miles out in the Pacific Ocean.

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

The Space Exploration Technologies rocket blasted off into mostly clear skies at 7:31 a.m. from Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base en route to place 10 Iridium Next satellites into orbit.

SpaceX says the Falcon second stage has successfully reached an intermediate orbit.

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The rocket carried 10 Iridium commercial satellites into orbit - the eighth and final set in a series of 75 SpaceX has launched as part of its Iridium-8 mission, according to the SpaceX website.

SpaceX will try to land the Falcon's first stage on an autonomous vessel floating in the ocean. About an hour after launch, 10 Iridium NEXT satellites were deployed into their orbital positions, one by one. "The process of replacing the satellites one by one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before".

Iridium is deorbiting its original fleet of satellites.

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