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Pre-Flown SpaceX Rocket Launches Iridium Next Communications Satellites

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One of SpaceX's pre-flown rockets was launched successfully into orbit on Dec. 22 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The rocket is carrying 10 communications satellites for the Iridium Next global satellite constellation.

SpaceX Launches 10 Iridium Satellites Into Orbit

After sunset, the pre-flown Falcon 9 rocket delivered a spectacular show of light in the skies for onlookers in Southern California. The rocket was used previously to launch also 10 Iridium Next satellites back in June. It was later recovered and was prepared for this launch.

The launch is considered to be the fourth batch of 10 satellites in a series of 75 satellites that the aerospace company plans to launch for Iridium.

The first three launches were successful and those 30 satellites are now being tested. To date, the company managed to bring 40 Iridium Next satellites into orbit across four launches, with all of them taking place this year.

Iridium Next

Iridium Next is a space project that intends to replace and upgrade Iridium's existing constellation with next-generation spacecraft in the Earth's low orbit.

The upgrade, which is considered to be probably the biggest tech upgrade in space, aims to meet the growing demand for global mobile communications on land, at sea, and in the skies.

It will open the way for new services including the next generation Certus satellite communications platform to be used for a number of applications. Among them is the Internet of Things.

It will provide new products with more bandwidth and higher speeds. Also, Iridium's satellites are being built and tested alongside its partner, Thales Alenia Space.

Iridium

Iridium has been operating a system of 66 active satellites that are used for worldwide voice and data communication from handheld satellite phones. The satellite company's system is considered to be unique and flexible because it covers the entire planet including oceans and airways.

In addition to the Internet of Things, the Certus satellite communication will also enable services for the aviation industry including surveillance and aircraft tracking.

SpaceX Reused Falcon 9 Rocket

This time, SpaceX decided not to land and recover this particular first stage for another reuse, but instead, allowed it to splash down into the Pacific Ocean. The reason behind this is unclear.

This year, the aerospace company also launched a pre-flown Dragon cargo capsules twice for the International Space Station. The second flight was launched on Dec. 15 and featured a used Falcon 9 first stage.

SpaceX's founder and CEO Elon Musk emphasized the importance of reusability as a key to cutting the cost of spaceflight.

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