SpaceX Launches and Lands Falcon 9, Lifting 10 Iridium NEXT Telephone Relay Stations

Published Date : Jun 26, 2017

Two days after launching first Falcon 9 for Bulgarian Sat from Florida, SpaceX launched second Falcon 9 rocket into orbit from California’s Central Coast on Sunday. This time the rocket carried 10 Iridium NEXT telephone relay stations. About one hour after the launch, it was able to make a propulsive vertical landing of all 10 satellites to their target orbits. The back-to-back and successful launchings and landings have created a record for the shortest turnaround between two flights of SpaceX from different launch sites.

SpaceX launched the first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites on January 14 from Vandenberg, placing the spacecraft into a near-polar orbit making an angle of 86.4o to the equator. It was one of the six orbital planes utilized by the company to establish its network.

Iridium Schedules Six More Launches with SpaceX

Iridium telephone customers are dependent on 66 satellites orbiting around six planes to make and receive calls from anywhere in the world. Iridium NEXT consists of the same interconnected satellite model as the original constellation, which is the primary feature that makes Iridium stand out among all other commercial satellite operators. The original block one satellites of the company are being replaced by 66 Iridium NEXT spacecraft with nine more working as in-orbit auxiliaries.

The CEO of Iridium, Matthew Desch, told that the company has scheduled six more launches with SpaceX over the coming year. The new spacecraft will also carry circuitry that will track ships at sea and aircraft anywhere in the world on a minute-by-minute basis.