VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — On Friday, January 11 at 7:31 a.m. PST, 15:31 UTC, SpaceX successfully launched the eighth and final set of satellites in a series of 75 total satellites for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.
Falcon 9’s first stage for the Iridium-8 mission previously supported the Telstar 18 VANTAGE mission in September 2018. Following stage separation, SpaceX landed Falcon 9’s first stage on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship, which will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
For this eighth and final planned Iridium mission, 10 Iridium® NEXT satellites will be launched as part of the company’s campaign to replace the world’s largest commercial communication satellite network. Including the seven previous launches, all with SpaceX, Iridium is deploying 75 new satellites to orbit. In total, 81 satellites are being built, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.
Iridium is the only satellite communications network that spans the entire globe, and Iridium NEXT is one of the largest “tech upgrades” in space history. The process of replacing the satellites one by one in a constellation of this size and scale has never ...