SpaceX launches rocket carrying 10 communication satellites

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On Friday, March 30 at 7:13 a.m., SpaceX successfully launched the Iridium-5 mission from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base. Iridium confirmed shortly before noon that all 10 satellites had reached orbit and transmitted signals.

Iridium customers will shortly feel a massive difference in network coverage and strength once the newly stationed Iridium Next satellites become operational in mid-2018.

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The first stage of the rocket launched on Friday had been used in October for a previous launch as part of the project, known as Iridium NEXT. Since then, SpaceX has commonly landed the first stage of its two-stage Falcon 9 rockets and reused them on later flights.

This is the fifth set of 10 satellites that SpaceX has launched for Iridium, whose $3 billion project is expected to include a total of 81 satellites - with 75 launched by SpaceX. To do that, Iridium has bought eight Falcon 9 launches for a total of $536 million. The mission lasted approximately 75 minutes. Since the older satellites had overperformed excessively, Iridium chose to invest a fortune of $3 billion to upgrade its services and increase subscribers base and to offer seamless and uninterrupted data, voice, and other services unlike others falling to meet the needs of the customers. "The process of replacing the satellites one-by-one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before".

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While the firm planned to recover half of the payload fairing using the "Mr Steven" boat, which is described a giant webbed catcher's mitt, Elon Musk has since revealed the fairing missed its target and crashed into the ocean. He clarified in following tweets that it was not an issue with the Falcon 9 rocket or the Iridium satellites but rather "an obscure problem with communication harnesses used for testing on the ground".

Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and chief executive, said via Twitter that the air wake from the fairing's descent interfered with the steering on an attached parafoil. This year, the fifth launch in the row took place on Friday where it sent 10 satellites to replace its old and retiring satellites that were launched with a lifespan of just seven years in the 1990s and early 2000s.

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Musk said SpaceX will conduct helicopter drop tests with payload fairings in the coming weeks to improve recovery efforts.