SpaceX has successfully deployed 10 Iridium-3 satellites into Earth’s orbit as part of the company’s 8 launch contract with the communications provider. The SpaceX Falcon 9 launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:37 am PDT (12:37 GMT).
Following the early morning launch and a successful stage 1 separation, the Falcon 9 broke free of Earth’s orbit and the launch vehicle’s fairings separated successfully. After a successful second stage engine cutoff, it spent the next 45 minutes cruising to the site of the first satellite deployment. A short second stage restart then placed the vehicle into the correct orbit. Finally, the 10 Iridium-3 satellites were deployed at intervals of one every 100 seconds.
In addition to successfully deploying the 10 Iridium-3 satellites, SpaceX again successfully landed a Falcon 9’s first stage on the remote drone barge, “Just Read the Instructions”. Additionally, the launch was the third involving a refurbished first stage further proving SpaceX’s reusability model.
Many critics had said that reusing a launch vehicle’s first stage was simply not possible. SpaceX seems to be proving them wrong and competitors are rushing to develop their own version of the company’s model.