SpaceX launches final batch of next-generation satellites

SpaceX completed a major upgrade to a key telecommunications satellite network on Friday after two years of ...

Posted: Jan 11, 2019 9:45 PM
Updated: Jan 11, 2019 9:45 PM

SpaceX completed a major upgrade to a key telecommunications satellite network on Friday after two years of launches.

A Falcon 9 rocket built by Elon Musk's space venture launched the final ten satellites of a 75-piece constellation for Iridium (IRDM), a satellite operator, just after 7:30 am from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Aviation and aerospace industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Companies

Space and astronomy

Space industry

Spacecraft and satellites

SpaceX

The second-generation satellite network, dubbed Iridium NEXT, aims to offer improved satellite-based internet and phone services as well as marine and air traffic monitoring.

Shortly after launch Friday, Iridium confirmed that all 10 new satellites had "successfully communicated" with ground systems. Now the company is preparing for additional tests.

"We're not quite across the finish line yet, as there is still some work to do to put these satellites into operation," Iridium CEO Matt Desch said in a statement. "Once that's complete, our future will be in place. I'm just incredibly proud of our team right now."

Iridium stock jumped nearly 6% Friday.

Separately, SpaceX said it once again recovered its booster during Friday's mission. SpaceX pioneered the maneuver of guiding first-stage rocket boosters back to Earth so they can be reused and reduce launch costs.

It was the first rocket landing for SpaceX since a December 5 mishap in which the booster experienced a technical issue, tipped off a sea-faring platform, and dove into the ocean. The failed landing attempt was the first for a Falcon 9 booster since 2016.

Friday's launch concluded a decade-long partnership between SpaceX and Iridium, a key customer.

Iridium selected SpaceX in March 2010 to be the sole launch partner for the Iridium NEXT. The companies signed a contract, worth $448 million, for seven launches. An eighth launch, for which SpaceX was paid $61.9 million, was added later.

SpaceX launched the first group of Iridium NEXT satellites on January 14, 2017, and has delivered a batch of Iridium satellites into orbit every few months since then.

The $3 billion Iridium NEXT network will replace the aging constellation and promises quicker connections.

Iridium made its first global communications network with the launch of a $5 billion satellite constellation a couple decades ago. But the service, which was initially intended to bring satellite phones to the mass market, proved too expensive for the average consumer. Iridum declared bankruptcy in 1999.

But the company emerged from Chapter 11 with new owners and a revamped its business plan. Satellite phone coverage remains a key form of communication for disaster zones and Earth's most remote corners.

Terre Haute
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 74°
Robinson
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 72°
Indianapolis
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 79°
Rockville
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 70°
Casey
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 76°
Brazil
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 74°
Marshall
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 74°
The Heat Continues
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 147865

Reported Deaths: 7026
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook927814630
Lake10007423
DuPage9364475
Kane7877275
Will6957320
Winnebago310996
McHenry212097
St. Clair2037137
Kankakee131165
Rock Island106129
Madison104269
Kendall100021
Champaign96015
Boone61021
DeKalb58220
Peoria56728
Sangamon45532
Jackson34019
Randolph2887
McLean28513
Stephenson2785
Ogle2754
Clinton24217
Macon23622
LaSalle22817
Union19619
Whiteside19615
Coles17817
Grundy1775
Iroquois1645
Tazewell1528
Knox1470
Warren1450
Monroe13713
Cass1367
Williamson1334
Adams1311
Morgan1303
Jefferson10717
Lee1032
McDonough10215
Henry981
Pulaski790
Vermilion792
Marion700
Macoupin583
Perry581
Douglas540
Unassigned530
Livingston522
Montgomery491
Christian474
Jasper477
Jo Daviess471
Ford401
Woodford362
Jersey351
Franklin310
Bureau302
Menard250
Mercer250
Fayette233
Mason230
Wabash230
Alexander220
Carroll212
Washington210
Johnson200
Piatt200
Effingham191
Hancock191
Moultrie190
Shelby191
Crawford180
Logan180
Cumberland170
Bond161
Clark150
Fulton150
Massac150
Wayne141
Schuyler130
De Witt120
Marshall110
Brown100
Edgar100
Greene90
Saline90
Henderson80
White80
Lawrence70
Hamilton60
Richland40
Stark40
Gallatin30
Out of IL30
Pike30
Clay20
Edwards20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pope10
Putnam10
Scott10

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 48524

Reported Deaths: 2698
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11682684
Lake5180242
Elkhart330146
Allen2798132
St. Joseph196466
Cass16389
Hamilton1563101
Hendricks1410100
Johnson1288118
Porter73237
Tippecanoe7268
Madison65964
Clark65544
Bartholomew58644
LaPorte58026
Howard57757
Kosciusko5494
Vanderburgh5486
Marshall4904
Noble48228
Jackson4723
LaGrange4709
Hancock45035
Boone44543
Delaware44550
Shelby42625
Floyd38144
Morgan32931
Monroe30028
Grant29526
Montgomery29420
Clinton2892
Henry27415
Dubois2736
White26510
Decatur25032
Lawrence24625
Dearborn23823
Vigo2358
Harrison21822
Warrick21829
Unassigned193193
Greene18932
Miami1832
Jennings17611
Putnam1698
DeKalb1624
Scott1627
Daviess14317
Wayne1406
Orange13623
Perry1299
Steuben1292
Franklin1248
Jasper1212
Ripley1177
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette997
Newton9810
Starke933
Whitley925
Gibson812
Huntington812
Randolph794
Wells731
Fulton721
Jefferson722
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey420
Brown391
Spencer381
Blackford372
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton321
Switzerland270
Parke230
Martin220
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110