SpaceX launched 10 Iridium satellites today (July 25) in the seventh and penultimate launch required to complete the communications company’s new constellation.
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the satellites took off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:39 a.m. EDT (11:39 UTC, 4:39 a.m. local time). The launch had a one-second window because of the precision needed for the satellite insertion, according to company spokesperson John Insprucker said during the broadcast. The launch went smoothly, despite the fact that fog obscured the view of the rocket until after lift-off.
SpaceX hoped to complete two separate marine tasks in addition to the launch itself: landing the first stage of the rocket on the droneship “Just Read the Instructions” and catching the rocket’s fairing with a second boat, which to date, no launch launch has accomplished. The company knew both boat maneuvers would be tricky today. “The weather in the Pacific is bad,” Insprucker said. “We have choppy seas.”
“[The conditions are] the worst that we’ve ever had for trying to get a first stage on the droneship,” he continued later in the broadcast. Nevertheless, the company soon confirmed in a tweet that the rocket successfully landed on the droneship — despite some initial confusion due to a lack of lighting on the landing platform.
Falcon 9 and Iridium-7 went vertical earlier today on the SpaceX launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Weather is 90% favorable for tomorrow’s launch at 4:39 a.m. PDT, 11:39 UTC. t.co/gtC39uBC7z pic.twitter.com/zGw49C1UTP
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 24, 2018
Mr. Steven—now with more net. SpaceX’s fairing recovery vessel has been fitted with a 4x larger net ahead of its next recovery attempt targeted for later this month. t.co/cjXvzg1H70 pic.twitter.com/AdAwPP30OU
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) July 13, 2018
SpaceX was not able to specify when it would know whether Mr. Steven was successful, although Insprucker promised an update after the coast period of the mission wrapped up, about 50 minutes after launch, or around 8:30 a.m. EDT.
The Iridium satellites are scheduled to deploy about an hour after launch. Assuming they do so successfully, they will bring the constellation up to 75 satellites, which with ten additional units meant to launch later this year will run tracking procedures on devices connected to the so-called Internet of Things (IoT).
Today’s launch followed a launch from the opposite coast on Sunday and will be followed by a third launch currently scheduled for Aug. 2.
Featured Image: SpaceX