SpaceX’s first launch since August took off Saturday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A Falcon 9 rocket deployed the first 10 next-generation Iridium communications satellites, part of a $3 billion upgrade to the company’s space network. Liftoff occurred at 9:54 a.m. PST (12:54 p.m. EST; 1754 GMT), and the Falcon 9’s first stage landed on a barge in the Pacific a few minutes later.
SpaceX rolled a fully-assembled Falcon 9 booster out of its hangar and lifted it on top of a launch pad Friday for the first time since an explosion grounded the commercial rocket last year, setting the stage for a one-second launch window Saturday to take off from California’s Central Coast and deploy the first 10 satellites in orbit for a $3 billion upgrade to Iridium’s globe-spanning message relay network.
The first 10 satellites for Iridium’s next-generation mobile voice and data relay network have been fueled, joined with their deployment module and encapsulated inside the clamshell-like nose cone of a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster for launch as soon as next week from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.