SpaceX has launched another batch of Iridium Communications commsats on a Falcon 9 rocket.
Liftoff came at 5:37 a.m. PDT Oct. 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket’s payload of 10 satellites for Iridium’s NEXT mobile communications fleet was placed into coasting orbit aboard the rocket’s second stage about 10 minutes later, and the sats were expect to deploy into their targeted orbit less than an hour post-launch.
Iridium’s NEXT constellation of low-orbit satellites will power the company’s Certus communications network. Iridium, a publicly traded telecommunications company (Nasdaq: IRDM) based in McLean, Va., is building a total 81 next-gen satellites as part of its NEXT program.
SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, Calif., will launch 75 of the NEXT satellites, including nine to serve as in-orbit backups. Another six sats tagged for possible backup deployment will remain warehoused on the ground.
The most recent previous SpaceX-Iridium mission came in June.
As in that launch, the latest Falcon 9’s reusable first stage was landed on a drone ship floating in the Pacific Ocean just under eight minutes post-launch.