Hawthorne-based SpaceX Wednesday launched a rocket carrying 10 communications satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
The satellites launched aboard the Falcon 9 rocket, which lifted off from Vendenberg Air Force Base at 4:39 Wednesday morning, are part of Iridium’s in-development $3 billion array, which willl eventually include 75 satellites supporting a worldwide voice and data communications network. It was the seventh launch SpaceX has made in support of the Iridium project.
At least one more launch is planned to complete the Iridium array. Of the 75 satellites being launched into orbit, 66 will be in operation and nine will be orbiting backups, according to SpaceX.
Following the launch, the Falcon’s first stage successfully returned to Earth and landed on a barge — named “Just Read the Instructions” — floating in the Pacific Ocean, as the company continues its process of reusing rockets to save money on future missions. The latest version of the Falcon 9 rocket, known as the Block 5, are designed to be reused as many as 10 times.
The launch was the second this week for SpaceX, which launched a rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida early Sunday morning, carrying a Canadian communications satellite into orbit.
SpaceX has another launch scheduled for Aug. 2, carrying an Indonesian satellite.