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01 April 2018, 12:10 | Floyd Cook
SpaceX rocket carrying communications satellites blasts off in California
SpaceX will set off one of its Falcon 9 rockets to deliver a group of satellites for communications firm Iridium.
The Falcon 9's first stage was previously launched on an Iridium mission last October and was recovered.
On a side note, in its efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle its rockets (and save a whole bunch of Earth dollars) SpaceX is hoping to catch some part of payload fairing from the Falcon 9 on its way back to the planet. Once, the constellation of 75 satellites for which, Iridium, a service provider had a contract with SpaceX, it will start beaming down good-quality signal with high-strength on the land, in water, and in the air as well.
However, it did try to land the fairing - the rocket's nose cone - on a SpaceX-owned boat named "Mr Steven", which is equipped with a huge net. The first time around, SpaceX boss Elon Musk was optimistic that the failure to recover the fairing was due to circumstances which could be controlled in the future, and we'll see today if he was right. With the launch two days away, Iridium CEO Matt Desch said in a tweet Tuesday the company was "having an issue" with one of the 10 satellites being prepared, pushing the attempt to Saturday.
"The instantaneous launch opportunity is at 7:13 a.m. PDT, or 14:13 UTC, and the satellites will begin deployment about an hour after launch". Iridium, which plans to have all of its satellites launched by mid-2018, has partnered with Thales Alenia Space to manufacture, assemble and test them.
Indeed, SpaceX says it can't launch its proposed satellites during the legal time limit. Iridium confirmed shortly before noon that all 10 satellites had reached orbit and transmitted signals.
Not only does this cost money, of course, but the construction of new payload fairings takes up valuable real estate, and workforce attention, at SpaceX's factory in Hawthorne California.
A SpaceX engineer narrating Friday's launch broadcast told viewers the company was required by NOAA to cut the live feed early. And then SpaceX will do it all over again with a Falcon 9 launch from Florida on Monday, sending supplies to the International Space Station.
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