New Delhi: California-based private spaceflight company SpaceX successfully launched 10 satellites into low-Earth orbit aboard its Falcon 9 rocket on Monday.
The rocket carrying satellites for Iridium Communications, as part of the company's Iridium NEXT constellation, took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:37 am PDT (1237 GMT) and landed on a droneship in the Pacific Ocean.
The launch, streamed live online, showed the team at the SpaceX control room breaking out in cheers and applause after the rocket's first stage landing.
According to Xinhua news agency, the mission also marked SpaceX's 14th launch this year and the 17th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage. SpaceX has been reusing Falcon 9 first stages and is pursuing fully reusable rockets in an effort to lower the cost of spaceflight.
The Iridium Next satellites were deployed about 57 minutes after liftoff, with the entire process taking about 15 minutes.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk posted a photo on Instagram, showing a satellite was deploying. "The last of ten Iridium global communication satellites delivered to orbit several hundred miles above Earth, traveling at over 17,000 mph. They will circle the planet every 90 minutes," he said.
This is the third of eight scheduled SpaceX launches for Iridium's next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, which brings the total number of satellites now in orbit up to 30. The first launch occurred in January, followed by the second on June 25.
The company announced early this month that it has begun live testing of the Iridium Certus service on operational Iridium NEXT satellites.
The satellite communications company has partnered with Thales Alenia Space for the manufacturing, assembly and testing of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites, 75 of which will be launched by SpaceX.
These 75 Iridium NEXT satellites are scheduled to be deployed by mid-2018.
The next generation global satellite constellation will deploy a cross-linked Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) architecture, providing coverage over 100 percent of the earth's surface, including across oceans, airways and polar regions, Xinhua reported.