SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches, releases 10 Iridium satellites into orbit

A Valley rocket company is looking to blast past SpaceX in the private company space race

Following the Iridium-4 launch a year ago, the first stage rocket made a successful landing aboard SpaceX's West Coast Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), however, it was not recovered again following its second flight on Friday.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications has blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

On Friday, roughly two and a half minutes after launch, the first stage and second stage of the rocket will detach from the Falcon 9.

Whether Mr. Steven does or doesn't catch the fairing, the news will likely come from Musk himself - possibly on his social media accounts, where he's shared other updates about SpaceX's attempts to land fairings. Speaking on the subject of the fairing, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, indicated that it would be easier to restore this part for a future flight provided that their recovery plans are successful.

All of the satellites are expected to be positioned in orbit by the middle of the year.

Iridium confirmed the health of the satellites in a post-launch release, saying all 10 "have successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operations Center and are preparing to begin testing". They're planning on sending a total of 75 satellites into space by mid-2018. 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. The payload fairing returns through Earth's atmosphere at a very high velocity, about eight times the speed of sound.

"It's a giant steel and webbing catcher's mitt superstructure on a high-speed ocean ship".

But SpaceX wants to change that.

SpaceX requested a waiver so it would only need to fly 1,600 satellites in that period, arguing that it would be physically impossible to launch all 4,425 during the same period-a launch cadence of 60 satellites per month. Musk said the fairing landed in the water "a few hundred meters" away from Mr. Steven.

Thanks to SpaceX's efforts to reuse hardware, its Falcon 9 rocket is drastically cheaper than competing rockets - and the customers keep lining up.

That rocket is scheduled to lift off Monday afternoon from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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