SpaceX launches 10 Iridium NEXT satellites on Iridium-3 mission

Launching before dawn, a Falcon 9 sends 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into space for a Iridium-3 mission. Photo Credit: Vandenberg Air Force Base

Launching before dawn, a Falcon 9 sends 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into space for a Iridium-3 mission. Photo Credit: Vandenberg Air Force Base


LOMPOC, Calif. — SpaceX flew a initial Falcon 9 rocket in what could be a launch doubleheader for a NewSpace company. The Iridium-3 goal carried off from Vandenberg Air Force Base and saw a third set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites placed into space.

Liftoff took place during 5:37 a.m. PDT (8:37 EDT / 12:37 GMT) Oct. 9, 2017, from Space Launch Complex 4E. Supporting a launch was a 30th Space Wing formed during Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The Falcon 9 with a Iridium-3 goal awaits launch during Space Launch Complex 4E during Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo Credit: Matthew Kuhns / SpaceFlight Insider

The Falcon 9 with a Iridium-3 goal awaits launch during Space Launch Complex 4E during Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Photo Credit: Matthew Kuhns / SpaceFlight Insider

“This is a fourth Falcon 9 and a third Iridium NEXT launch in 2017 from Vandenberg,” pronounced Col. Michael Hough, 30th Space Wing commander and a launch commander for this mission. “This launch continues to prominence a unusual turn of teamwork and pointing that exists between Team Vandenberg and SpaceX. ”

As said, a Iridium-3 mission was a third such moody by SpaceX on interest of Iridium Communications in 2017. The prior dual occurred in January and June. There are 5 some-more launches designed by a center of 2018 to circuit a sum of 75 next-generation Iridium satellites to totally renovate a company’s voice and information constellation.

Iridium NEXT satellites are built by Thales Alenia Space. Each are about 1,900 pounds (860 kilometers). They have dual solar arrays that furnish dual kilowatts of energy and support L- and Ka-band antennas. Each are approaching to have an on-orbit lifetime of 15 years during an operational circuit of about 480 miles (780 kilometers) in one of 6 orbital planes spaced 30 degrees apart.

With 30 now in orbit, a association is good underway with a routine of switching out bequest satellites – some of that have been in space given a late 1990s – with a new vehicles. Once all 66 primary satellites, as good as a on-orbit spares, are switched out, a aged satellites will be placed in aloft or reduce orbits in credentials for contingent de-orbiting.

Liftoff of a Falcon 9


A few seconds before a countdown reached zero, a 9 initial theatre Merlin 1D engines lighted and began to bobbin adult to full power. Three seconds later, a launch restraints expelled a Falcon 9 rocket and it began to soar skyward. After several seconds of climbing loyal up, a upholder began to representation toward a south toward a designated circuit – Plane 4 of a Iridium satellite constellation.

After about 1 minute, 10 seconds of flying, a car gifted limit energetic pressure, a indicate where a stresses on a rocket by a atmosphere are during their highest.

The ninth of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites on a Iridium-3 goal is deployed about 1 hour, 10 mins after launch. Some of a satellites already deployed can be seen in a top left side of a picture. Photo Credit: SpaceX webcast

The ninth of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites on a Iridium-3 goal is deployed about 1 hour, 10 mins after launch. Some of a satellites already deployed can be seen in a top left side of a picture. Photo Credit: SpaceX webcast

Two minutes, 23 seconds after withdrawal California, a initial theatre finished a pursuit and distant several seconds later. The second theatre and a sole Merlin opening engine afterwards took over to finish a pursuit of delivering a Iridium-3 cargo into space. Soon after, no longer needed, a cargo fairing safeguarding a Iridium satellites separated. This occurred during about 3 minutes, 9 seconds into a flight.

The second theatre continued to propel a Iridium-3 goal toward circuit for another 6 mins before slicing off only after 9 mins into a flight.

During a moody of a second stage, a initial theatre achieved a array of browns to land on an ocean-going height in a Pacific Ocean. That initial bake – a boostback – occurred several seconds after theatre subdivision and lasted about 30 seconds. At 5 minutes, 41 goal into a mission, a theatre achieved an entrance bake to pillow itself behind into Earth’s atmosphere.

About a notation later, a initial theatre achieved a alighting bake to gently hold down on a Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship named Just Read The Instructions some 7 minutes, 23 seconds after withdrawal California. The worker boat was located about 186 miles (300 kilometers) downrange in a Pacific Ocean.

In space, a second theatre continued to seashore until a goal elapsed time of about 52 minutes. The vehicle’s engine afterwards lighted for about 3 seconds to circularize a frigid circuit during about 388 miles (625 kilometers). The initial set of 10 Iridium satellites began deploying only 5 mins later. Each deployment was 90 seconds apart, finishing during a goal elapsed time of 1 hour, 12 minutes.

The Oct. 9 launch was a 42nd Falcon 9 moody given a rocket pattern began drifting in 2010 – a 14th in 2017. It was also a 6th SpaceX goal from Vandenberg Air Force Base, 4 of that occurring in 2017.

Should a subsequent Falcon 9 launch on schedule, it will fly reduction than 60 hours after during 6:53 p.m. (22:53 GMT) Oct. 11, 2017, from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. That launch will see a SES-11 satellite orbited for Luxembourg-based SES. Additionally, it will employed a “flight-proven” upholder that initial launched during a CRS-10 goal in Feb 2017. This will also be a initial repeat patron to fly on a reused booster.

Video pleasantness of SpaceX

 

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Derek Richardson has a grade in mass media, with an importance in contemporary journalism, from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas. While during Washburn, he was a handling editor of a tyro run newspaper, a Washburn Review. He also has a blog about a International Space Station, called Orbital Velocity. He met with members of a SpaceFlight Insider group during a moody of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket with a MUOS-4 satellite. Richardson assimilated a group shortly thereafter.

His passion for space lighted when he watched Space Shuttle Discovery launch into space Oct. 29, 1998. Today, this passion has accelerated toward circuit and shows no signs of negligence down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, he shortly satisfied his loyal job was communicating to others about space. Since fasten SpaceFlight Insider in 2015, Richardson has worked to boost a peculiarity of a content, eventually apropos a handling editor. @TheSpaceWriter


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