SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket Launch Carrying 10 Communications Satellites

Lucy Bush
April 1, 2018

SpaceX is targetting a 10:13 a.m. EDT launch on Friday for the Iridium-5 NEXT mission.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications has blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

The rocket carried the fifth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, which SpaceX said would be one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history, replacing the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-orbit satellites. SpaceX did not attempt to recover Falcon 9's first stage after launch. Iridium is now in the process of building out its NEXT constellation of communications satellites, and in all, it will be comprised of 75 satellites.

SpaceX did not seek to recover the booster after the launch, but did deploy a boat nicknamed "Mr. Steven" to attempt to catch one of the payload fairing halves as they fell toward the Pacific Ocean.

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The fairing rests on the very top part of the rocket, and it acts as a shield for satellites during launch. You can also assemble a rocket in a game-like AR interactive for an up-close look at what it takes to launch and land a rocket. Iridium has tapped SpaceX to launch 75 Iridium Next satellites to build up their communications constellation in orbit. The company attempted such a recovery during a February launch, but the fairing missed the net by "a few hundred meters".

Michael Hammersley, SpaceX materials engineer, said, "Due to certain restrictions from NOAA, SpaceX will intentionally end the live video coverage of the second stage prior to the engine shutdown".

SpaceX did not attempt to land the booster after Friday's launch.

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According to Musk, SpaceX was unsuccessful in recovering the fairing.

The Falcon 9 lifted off from the station at 7.13 am and placed the satellites into the Earth's orbit about an hour later.

SpaceX said no such restrictions will be imposed on its next launch, an April 2 cargo mission to the International Space Station. Reacting to the issue, Musk said that helicopter drop tests would be conducted to solve the problem.

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