Iridium Completes Seventh Successful Iridium® NEXT Launch

Follow the SpaceX rocket launch

The satellites were successfully launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California making today's the seventh launch for the Iridium NEXT program that further solidifies the company's reputation for expertise as prime contractor for sophisticated satellite communications (SATCOM) systems. The crew on SpaceX's fairing recovery boat "Mr Steven", which was recently upgraded with a quadrupled-in-size catcher's net, was in visual range of the fairings as they fell in the Pacific Ocean, according to SpaceX's launch narrator.

After the rocket's nine Merlin 1D engines passed an automated health check, the Falcon 9 was released from the Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:39 a.m. PDT (1139 GMT).

The payload includes 10 Iridium-NEXT communications satellites.

Because of the precision needed for satellite insertion, the launch had only a one-second window, John Insprucker, a principal integration engineer at SpaceX, said during a live webcast.

The 10 Iridium Next satellites launched as part of the seventh mission were delivered to orbital plane number five, where they will go in to operation immediately following testing and validation. "We've come a long way, and we are particularly excited to see the financial transformation enabled by the completion of the Iridium NEXT system and the associated drop in capital expenditures". The Galileo satellites provide global-positioning services across Europe, and Wednesday's launch should complete the network. New satellites will replace outdated equipment.

That booster made its own successful landing on SpaceX's Atlantic drone ship, christened "Of Course I Still Love You".

SpaceX will continue its ambitious launch schedule with another Falcon 9 launch set for August 2.

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