SpaceX lands 1st stage after California launch

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

"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. Sixty-six will be operational and nine will serve as in-orbit spares.

Of course, Falcon 9 is but a mere stepping stone to Elon's mighty Starship, and His Muskiness unveiled a finished version of the test flight rocket at SpaceX's Texas facility this morning.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 Iridium Communications satellites has blasted off from California.

The Iridium-8 mission launched from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at California's Vandenburg Air Force Base at 1531 UTC, sending into orbit the remaining 10 satellites on the company's books for Iridium's next-generation global satellite constellation.

Less than ten minutes after liftoff, SpaceX confirmed Falcon 9's first stage successfully landed back on its drone ship platform in the Pacific.

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But the primary goal of the rocket launch involved completing the $3 billion Iridium Next constellation to provide voice and data communication anywhere on the globe.

The Falcon 9 mission is separate from that of the Delta IV Heavy rocket, which was also to be launched from Vandenberg in December.

The rocket lifted off at 7:31 a.m. Friday at Vandenberg Air Force Base and arced over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles. 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".

The first Iridium satellites were launched in the 1990s to offer voice, data, fax and paging services to customers with Iridium handheld telephones and pagers.

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