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SpaceX to close out 2017 campaign with Iridium-4 launch

22 Dec 2017, 14:11 UTC
SpaceX to close out 2017 campaign with Iridium-4 launch
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SpaceX will make their last launch of 2017 Friday, with a Falcon 9 lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base to deploy ten more Iridium-NEXT communications satellites. The launch, scheduled for 17:27:23 Pacific Time (01:27 UTC on Saturday), will take place just 61 seconds after a Japanese H-IIA rocket is scheduled to lift off on the other side of the Pacific.
Friday’s launch carries the fourth group of ten satellites in Iridium Communications’ second-generation Iridium-NEXT constellation. Iridium provides global mobile satellite communications through a fleet of satellites in low Earth orbit. The company was formed in 2001 as Iridium Satellite LLC, taking over the assets of Motorola-backed Iridium SSC, which had deployed the first-generation Iridium constellation but bankrupted itself in the process.
To provide worldwide communications, the Iridium constellation uses six orbital planes with eleven satellites per plane. As well as sixty-six operational satellites, Iridium keeps several more spacecraft available as on-orbit spares. The first-generation constellation was deployed between 1997 and 2002, with satellites built by Lockheed Martin around the LM-700A platform, which had an expected design life of seven years. The satellites significantly out-performed this expectation, with some operating for over twenty years before replacements finally began to launch ...

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