Suc­cess for delivery of satel­lites

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

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.

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