The Space Exploration Technologies Corp. launched a rocket on Friday with 10 satellites, the fifth of which was completed in a series of eight launches for the communications company building the NEXT constellation network.
The Falcon 9 rocket lifted at 7:13 local time from Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California Central Coast. SpaceX has committed to bring a total of 75 Iridium satellites into orbit. SpaceX said on Twitter about an hour after launch, that all 10 satellites had been deployed.
"Iridium NEXT will replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low earth orbiting satellites in one of the US largest" tech upgrades "in history," said SpaceX in a press kit . "The process of replacing satellites one by one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before."
On Friday, the same launch missile was deployed in October on the same mission of Iridium . SpaceX will not try to find the rocket for reuse, it said. It will try to recapture a part of the fairing, or nose cone, it said.
Elon Musk's SpaceX targets about 30 total missions this year, from a record 18 in 2017. The Iridium launch brings its 2018 tally to six. A seventh mission, known as CRS-14, is scheduled for Monday, during which the SpaceX spacecraft Dragon will retrofit the International Space Station as part of its contract with NASA.