SpaceX Successfully Launches Iridium Satellites Into Orbit Atop Falcon 9

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Washington: The American company SpaceX on Sunday successfully placed 10 satellites for the communications company Iridium into orbit using a Falcon 9 rocket.

After launching as scheduled from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:25pm local time (8:25pm GMT or 1:55am IST), the Falcon 9’s first stage returned less than eight minutes after taking off.

As planned, it landed on a barge floating in the Pacific Ocean.

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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.

It was the second series of Iridium satellites launched by SpaceX, after a set of 10 were delivered in January.

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.

The $3 billion (roughly Rs. 19,350 crores) project is a bid to upgrade the Virginia-based Iridium’s global communications network.