(From AP News)
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched 10 next-generation satellites Friday for Iridium Communications from California.
The rocket, including a previously used first stage, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force at 7:13 a.m. PDT and arced southward over the Pacific Ocean west of Los Angeles.
About an hour later, the rocket’s second stage released the satellites into low Earth orbit, circling from pole to pole.
“All 10 new satellites have successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operations Center and are preparing to begin testing,” the McLean, Virginia, company said in a statement.
The payload was the fifth set of 10 new orbiters launched for the company, which is replacing its entire space-based mobile voice and data network with a satellite constellation dubbed Iridium NEXT.