Update for 11:45 a.m. EST: All 10 Iridium Next satellites were successfully deployed.
A used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lofted 10 final Iridium Next satellites into orbit today (Jan. 11), completing a two-year, eight-launch contract between the two companies.
The rocket lifted off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:31 a.m. local time (10:31 a.m. EST, 1531 GMT) during an instantaneous launch window. If all goes well, satellite deployment will begin about an hour after launch. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket successfully landed on the droneship “Just Read the Instructions” about seven minutes after liftoff. That stage had previously flown on the Telstar 18 launch in September 2018. SpaceX did not attempt to recover the fairing, which it has yet to do successfully.
“There it is, right in the middle of the bull’s-eye,” SpaceX’s launch commentator, John Insprucker, principal integration engineer said during