SpaceX has set May 19 as the launch date for a Falcon 9 mission that will carry satellites for commercial fleet operator Iridium and a joint mission for NASA and Germany, according to Iridium.
SpaceX delivered its latest batch of Iridium Next satellites to orbit Friday morning, but stopped its live video feed nine minutes into the launch citing orders from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“We can put a satellite phone in the hands of folks who don’t know how to use it and it won’t make a hill of beans difference,” said Ken Flowers, Iridium Communications vice president government.
A company that fleet operator Iridium formed to help finance its second-generation satellite constellation is taking longer than expected to pay Iridium back for carrying its sensor network to orbit.
SpaceX closed out its most successful year to date Dec. 22 with the launch of 10 satellites for mobile satellite services operator Iridium, notching a personal best of 18 launches in a single year.
In a break from its now-standard practice, SpaceX will not attempt a landing of the first stage of its Falcon 9 rocket on its next launch this week, the company confirmed Dec. 19.
The fourth SpaceX Falcon 9 mission for mobile satellite communications operator Iridium remains on track for Dec. 22, the company said today, assuaging concerns that the launch would be delayed along with other December missions.
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium will use previously flown Falcon 9 first stages for its next two launches in order not to miss its mid-2018 goal for completing the Iridium Next constellation.
SpaceX carried out the third of eight missions for Iridium Communications early Oct. 9, launching ten more Iridium Next satellites on a Falcon 9 from California.
Iridium Communications, in the first of what the company signaled could be many similar partnerships with new smallsat operators, has announced a collaborative agreement with a startup to expand its offerings in the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) market.
Mobile satellite services operator Iridium announced July 28 that SpaceX will conduct the third launch in its fleet replenishment Sept. 30 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX completed a “doubleheader” of launches June 25 with the launch of a second set of next-generation Iridium satellites from California, two days after another Falcon 9 from the East Coast.
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium is willing to use pre-flown Falcon 9 first stage boosters for the second half of its fleet replacement if SpaceX can show that reuse will shorten Iridium’s wait for launches.
The system uses GPS data and onboard computers to monitor the rocket's trajectory and destroy it should it go off course. It was first tested earlier this year on a Falcon 9 launch from the Kennedy Space Center.
Now that its first batch of next generation satellites is in orbit and operational, mobile satellite services provider Iridium is preparing deorbit procedures for its legacy fleet of low-Earth orbit satellites that launched in the late 1990s.