SpaceX launches rocket with satellites from Vandenberg AFB

02 April, 2018, 00:58 | Author: Tracy Craig
  • SpaceX will add lots of space traffic over the next few days

The Iridium-5 NEXT Mission marked the fifth set of 10 satellites launched for the NEXT global satellite constellation.

Elon Musk rocket company live streamed part of the launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Iridium-NEXT satellites were launched Friday morning for McLean, Virginia-based satellite operator Iridium Communications, Efe reported.

During the live commentary of the launch, SpaceX materials engineer Michael Hammersley said, "today, this is our fifth launch for the Iridium constellation, using only three rockets".

The Iridium project, though less flamboyant, will replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites in one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history, improving mobile, voice and data networks, Iridium has said.

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Originally scheduled to launch in December, the Iridium 5 mission had been pushed back multiple times to Thursday.

SpaceX said no such restrictions will be imposed on its next launch, an April 2 cargo mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX did not respond to a CNBC request for comment regarding whether Friday's launch attempt would see new fairing recovery technologies deployed.

While SpaceX typically provides live video of its non-classified launches through payload separation, SpaceX ended Friday's video feed shortly before the rocket's second-stage engine stopped firing.

After the launch, SpaceX said in a statement that it didn't have the proper license from NOAA to share live views from orbit. To do that, Iridium has bought eight Falcon 9 launches for a total of $536 million.

Falcon 9 fairings have thrusters that can guide it using Global Positioning System back toward a target then use parafoils - a type of parachute that works in high altitudes - to slow it down and have it land on nets held open by a ship with a "giant mitt" called Mr Steven. The mission lasted approximately 75 minutes. He clarified in following tweets that it was not an issue with the Falcon 9 rocket or the Iridium satellites but rather "an obscure problem with communication harnesses used for testing on the ground". The launches began in October 2017 and are scheduled to be complete in a few months. The cords on the GPS-guided parafoil got twisted, causing the fairing to hit the water at a high speed instead of landing more gently in the boat's catcher's net.

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