Elon Musk's SpaceX launches 10 more satellites for Iridium

MHI Dr. Ko Ogasawara

The Iridium launch brings its 2018 tally to six.

SpaceX successfully launched 10 new satellites Friday morning. The 229-foot-tall rocket with nine Merlin 1D engines attached to its first stage produced a staggering 1.7 million pounds of thrust taking the rocket to the speed of sound in just two-and-a-half minutes.

SpaceX is targeting roughly 30 total missions this year, up from a record 18 in 2017.

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.

During the Friday mission, SpaceX attempted to recover its payload fairing - the structure that protects the rocket's payload from the atmosphere during the early stages of flight.

Elon Musk's ambitious aerospace venture is famous for placing a slew of cameras on its Falcon 9 rockets that provide unparalleled views from space. It was unsuccessful in recovering it, because the fairing just missed the boat by a few hundred yards.

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The space company will attempt to catch the fairing - the bulbous nose cone on top of the rocket - using a high speed boat known as "Mr. Steven".

The system proposed by privately held SpaceX will use 4,425 satellites, the FCC said, and will help improve communications in rural or hard-to-serve places where fibre-optic cables and cell towers do not reach. These satellites are destined to work with other 65 satellites of which total 50 satellites have already been sent to the orbit.

At the same time, commercial communication to Iridium clients on the ground was made successful as the 10 satellites were deployed to the Low-Earth orbit as planned.

The satellites are owned by Virginia-based Iridium Communications, which is replacing its entire fleet. He further added that the target was anticipated, however, the milestone was achieved much before than predicted. A total of eight Iridium NEXT launches are now planned with SpaceX delivering a total of 75 new satellites to orbit. The booster that was used in this mission was also used to launch 10 other Iridium satellites on October 9 during the Iridium-3 mission.

SpaceX was chosen to launch a constellation of 75 satellites in eight missions. Rest 9 satellites are sanctioned as spares for when if any satellites go impaired or malfunctions. 40 of those satellites were already launched in 2017.

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