SpaceX launched 10 Iridium NEXT satellites using its Falcon 9 rocket on Sunday into low-Earth orbit.
The private space company confirmed that the 10 satellites were successfully deployed as per the plan. SpaceX’s Sunday launch came just two days after launching a Bulgarian communications satellite from Florida.
The Falcon 9 lifted off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:25 pm local time (2025 GMT) and in less than eight minutes after the launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth and landed on a barge floating in the Pacific Ocean. It was the second series of Iridium satellites launched by SpaceX, after a set of 10 were delivered in January. The $3 billion project is a bid to upgrade the Virginia-based Iridium’s global communications network. In total SpaceX, which is headed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, will launch a series of 75 satellites for Iridium’s satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT by 2018.
SpaceX has successfully landed multiple rockets on both land and water, as part of its effort to bring down the cost of space flight by re-using multimillion dollar components instead of jettisoning them in the ocean after launch. SpaceX’s next launch is targeted for mid-July for Intelsat communications satellite, although the date has not yet been confirmed.