SpaceX successfully launches Falcon 9 carrying 10 communication satellites to space
01 April 2018, 12:10 | Colleen Roy
Image source You Tube Video Screenshot
Liftoff is set for 10:13 a.m. EDT, just after sunrise on the West Coast.
SpaceX announced before the launch it would "not attempt to recover" the Falcon 9's first stage, as it did with the Iridium-3 mission the booster previously flew. "This time there was no attempt to recover the first stage but it was to perform a simulated landing over the ocean", said Michael Hammersley, a SpaceX materials engineer serving as launch spokesman.
The satellites are part of an ultimate 75-satellite array being positioned for Iridium's "next-generation" communications system. SpaceX has not publicaly confirmed that it will use Mr. Steven again, but the ship did leave the Port of Los Angeles on Thursday.
In 2015, when Google made a $1 billion investment in the space company, SpaceX told investors it expected to generate significant revenue from its satellite constellation by 2020. Each launch strategically delivers new satellites to specific orbital planes to ensure the earliest possible completion of the constellation.
The 10 Iridium satellites will begin to deploy an hour after launch. That means it will need a grand total of eight launches to get them all into space, so it won't be very long until we hear about the next one. Musk tweeted after the February 22 launch from Vandenberg that the boat missed catching the fairing "by a few hundreds meters", adding that the fairing slowed down enough to land "intact" in the Pacific Ocean. During its return to Earth, the parafoil which controls the descent of the fairing became twisted. Enter Ms. Steven, a boat with a giant net which will hopefully catch the payload fairing. As SpaceX brings about a new variation of the Falcon 9 booster, known as "Block 5", older models are being discarded through expendable missions.
The Iridium-5 NEXT Mission is scheduled to launch at 7:13 a.m.
The next launch on SpaceX's agenda is a resupply mission to the International Space Station set to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40 on April 2.
Musk said SpaceX will conduct helicopter drop tests with payload fairings in the coming weeks to improve recovery efforts.
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