SpaceX Launches Iridium-5 Mission Friday Morning From Vandenberg Air Force Base

Ignacio Smith
March 31, 2018

Falcon 9 disappears into the fog after a brief taste of sunlight.

Today's launch marks the fifth set of 10 satellites the firm has delivered to orbit, for what will eventually be a global satellite constellation of 75 craft.

SpaceX plans to launch 10 new communications satellites aboard a used Falcon 9 rocket Friday morning from the California coast.

The space company has previously re-used first-stage and second-stage rocket boosters, in addition to one of its previously flown Dragon capsules. But this was one of the rare occasions Musk has acknowledged his rocket startup's attempts to recover the fairing after launch.

Iridium, based in McLean, Virginia, provides mobile voice and data communications.

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When completed, the constellation will consist of 66 operational satellites and nine spares in orbit.

The three billion USA dollar project is scheduled for completion this year, with a total of 75 new satellites in orbit. "I would double check with them (SpaceX)". So how is SpaceX going to do that? After multiple delays, the Iridium-5 mission was set back by 3 months as it was originally scheduled for December 2017. But unexpectedly for most watching, the company's webcast was precluded from showing the mission in its entirety. "Most likely if it gets into the water, it's not usable".

The satellites provide telecommunication services to the USA government and commercial companies.

Live coverage will begin 15 minutes before liftoff.

One lamented by-product of the transition is the eventual loss of so-called Iridium flares.

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Iridium is created to operate with a constellation of 66 satellites.

"It's a little different for me because it's our network, but I found it to be nearly an emotional experience the first time I saw one", Desch said.

What does seem clear is that, with the proliferation of micro-rockets, cubesats, and even smaller satellites, these regulations on cameras in orbit will need to be clarified-something else for the National Space Council to consider, no doubt.

'You can actually see the first stage falling away, ' the announcer added.

"What a sight", Iridium representatives said on Twitter after confirmation of delivery for all 10 spacecraft to push the total in orbit to 50 since January 2017. "I think it's really cool, a great party trick for friends and a great way to win a drink at the right time at a bar".

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The rocket, including a previously used first stage, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force at 7:13 a.m. PDT and arced southward over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles.

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