SpaceX kicked off its 2019 launch campaign with a mission Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California carrying 10 more upgraded communications satellites into orbit to complete a refresh of Iridium’s voice and data relay network. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket occurred at 7:31 a.m. PST (10:31 a.m. EST; 1531 GMT).
Firing through a veil of fog blanketing California’s Central Coast, a Falcon 9 launcher climbed into orbit Wednesday with 10 more satellites for Iridium’s voice and data relay constellation, pushing the upgraded network closer to completion as SpaceX accomplished another landing of the rocket’s first stage booster.
A Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 4:39 a.m. PDT (7:39 a.m. EDT; 1139 GMT) Wednesday, and SpaceX successfully landed the rocket’s first stage on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. The mission’s primary objective is the deployment of 10 Iridium Next communications satellites into low Earth orbit.
After several near-misses in tries to catch payload shrouds jettisoned from Falcon 9 rockets climbing into space, a high-speed boat tasked with retrieving the fairings for SpaceX to reuse has been upgraded and dispatched into the Pacific Ocean ahead of a launch Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force in California.