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SpaceX launches Cluster of Iridium Satellites from California

The launch was made after three consecutive postponements in recent weeks. The 23-foot long Falcon 9 placed the cluster of Iridium’s 10 communication satellite into designated orbits.

Jan 16, 2017 15:19 IST
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Space-X-launched-Falcon-9SpaceX, the American rocket company, on 14 January 2017 launched a Falcon 9 vehicle into space with 10 satellites of Iridium. All these 10 satellites were placed in the low-orbit.

Falcon 9 vehicle was launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base on the California coast.

Lift-off took place at 9:54 AM local time. A few minutes later, the first stage of the rocket landed successfully on a platform in the Pacific Ocean. An hour and 15 minutes after launch, the mission was complete with the Iridium payload safely in orbit. SpaceX must now follow through with a steady but rapid series of further flights.

Iridium is a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications. These satellites were the first part of at least 70 satellites of Iridium’s next-generation global satellite constellation, Iridium Next. SpaceX will be launching all 70 satellites of Iridium Next.

This was the first mission by the company since one of its vehicles exploded on the launch pad in September 2016.

It has a long queue of customers all waiting for a ride to orbit - including America's civil space agency (Nasa), the nation's military, and multiple outfits in the commercial sector. Indeed, Iridium has six further missions it wants to complete with SpaceX inside the next 18 months.

FALCON 9

• It is a two-stage rocket designed by SpaceX.

• It is capable of transporting satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into the orbit.

• Its two-stage configuration minimises the number of separation events and with nine first-stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.

• In 2012, it created a history by delivering Dragon into the correct orbit for rendezvous with the International Space Station. With this fete, it became the first commercial company ever to visit the space station.

Falcon 9, along with the Dragon spacecraft, was designed from the outset to deliver humans into space. Under an agreement with NASA, SpaceX is actively working toward that goal.

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