Archive image of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifting off from Vandenberg’s Space Launch Complex 4. Photo Credit: Ashly Cullumber / SpaceFlight Insider
LOMPOC, Calif. — After enduring several delays, SpaceX successfully launched ten Iridium NEXT satellites into a polar low-Earth orbit (LEO), marking the Falcon 9’s first flight of 2019, and the last of the original contract, signed in 2010, with Iridium.
Liftoff of the Iridium 8 mission occurred at 7:31 a.m. PST (10:31 EST / 15:31 GMT) at the of an instantaneous launch window.
That eight-mission contract between SpaceX and Iridium marked the largest private launch deal ever engaged, tipping the scales for a total of $492 million, or $61.5 million per launch. To honor the occasion Iridium created a launch soundtrack on Spotify.
Today’s flight lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base’s (VAFB) historic Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E), which originally hosted Atlas rockets starting in 1962. Between that time and 2005, the complex saw additional launches from Titan IIID, Titan 34D, and Titan IV rockets before being converted to process and fly Falcon 9 and, eventually, Falcon Heavy rockets.
The booster (B1049.2) for this flight had previously flown on the Telstar 18V mission, marking the second ...