SpaceX Launches Satellites from California Base

Alain Brian
Juin 26, 2017

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off at 4:25 p.m. EDT (1:25 p.m. local Pacific time) Sunday from the coastal base, carrying 10 more satellites for Iridium Communications, which is replacing its entire constellation with next-generation satellites.

The two back-to-back launches - a first for SpaceX - were made possible by its reusable rocket technology.

The satellites launched over the weekend belong to the communications company Iridium. One of its most notable is to eliminate "black zones" where commercial airplanes can't be tracked by providing global real-time surveillance of all flights.

And while SpaceX founder Elon Musk knows that every space nerd on the planet was watching in real time, he's also aware of the power of social media. The last of the 10 satellites launched Sunday was deployed to low-Earth orbit at 2:37 p.m. The privately-owned firm is aiming to fly around 20 missions before the end of the year, SpaceX representatives have said.

The Falcon 9 rocket belonging to Elon Musk's SpaceX carried 10 communications satellites into orbit from California, merely two days after the company successfully launched a satellite from Florida. The booster was previously used in a January mission.

"We tried to work with other launch vehicle companies but all were at least twice the cost of SpaceX and unaffordable based on the scope of the network we needed to launch", Desch said, adding that he remains focused on the future. The sticker price for a customer is about $62 million.

Though Iridium's contract with SpaceX now specifies that new first-stages will be used to launch the satellites, company Chief Executive Matt Desch said earlier this week he would be "open" to using a previously flown booster in the future.

On a company webcast, loud cheers could be heard when the first-stage rocket landed on the drone ship despite fears that low visibility would make the maneuver too hard.

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