Success for delivery of satellites
TEN satellites have been delivered to low-Earth orbit by a SpaceX rocket.
It completes a two-year campaign by Iridium Communications to replace its original fleet with a new generation of mobile communication technology and added global aircraft tracking capability.
The Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday morning and arced over the Pacific west of Los Angeles. The previously used first stage was recovered after a bullseye landing on a “droneship” in the ocean.
The upper stage continued on to orbit.
The eighth and final launch of the $4.2 billion Iridium NEXT project completed delivery of 75 new satellites to orbit – 66 of them to be operational and nine to serve as in-orbit spares. Another six remain on the ground as spares.
All 10 newly-launched satellites communicated with Iridium’s network operations centre and were being readied for testing, the company said.
Iridium has been moving its new satellites into positions held by the old ones, which are lowered until they burn up in the atmosphere. So far, 60 new satellites are in operation.
The new satellites do not reflect sunlight the way the old ones did, so show no flares.