Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

SpaceX successfully completes back-to-back launches


Iridium comes as SpaceX's ninth rocket launch for 2017 - the most the company has completed in just a single year.

Just over 48 hours after its successful launch of BulgariaSat-1, US space firm SpaceX has successfully completed its second launch on Sunday with liftoff of a Falcon 9 rocket from California carrying 10 Iridium-NEXT satellites into low-Earth orbit (LEO). The drone landing pad had to be repositioned due to that, though there were still worries that the poor visibility would make it hard to control the rocket's first stage as it comes in for the landing. After completing its part of the mission, the 230 foot tall first stage landed on the drone ship "Of Course I Still Love You" in the Atlantic Ocean. The booster was previously used in a January mission.

SpaceX's Falcon X takes off Sunday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California.

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The last of the 10 satellites launched Sunday was deployed to low-Earth orbit at 2:37 p.m.

What a time to be alive - what a time for aerospace engineering: SpaceX, under the helm of Elon Musk, has successfully launched and landed the second Falcon 9 rocket in just roughly 48 hours. The Falcon's second stage is continuing to carry the satellites toward orbit.

Swapping out and deorbiting some old satellites has already begun, Iridium CEO Matt Desch said in a pre-launch call with reporters.

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That booster sent the BulgariaSat-1 telecom satellite on its way geostationary orbit, and then it was recovered a second time.

According to Iridium, it is on track to fully replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-earth orbit satellites in what will be one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history. These 75 Iridium NEXT satellites are scheduled to be deployed by mid-2018.

The mission of this most recent endeavor is for SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket to deliver 10 satellites to low Earth orbit for Iridium, provider of mobile voice and data satellite communications. The new satellites will not create visible flashes of reflected sunlight as they passed overhead.

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