SpaceX rocket blasts final round of Iridium satellites into orbit

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

All 10 newly launched satellites communicated with Iridium's network operations centre and were being readied for testing, the company said. At 11:45 a.m. ET, SpaceX confirmed that the 10 satellites had been successfully released into orbit.

A Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Friday served as the grand finale for one of the largest tech upgrades in space history, including revolutionary change to the global air-traffic surveillance system.

The next launch window was planned for Wednesday and then rescheduled for Friday.

"Upon the completion of its part of the mission, the first stage landed on the "Just Read The Instructions" Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship" positioned out off the Pacific coast.

"Three, two, one, ignition, liftoff of Falcon 9", Iridium CEO Matt Desch said on a live webcast as the white Falcon 9 rocket took flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:31 am (1531 GMT).

This is the eighth and final launch for Iridium using SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

But the primary objective of the rocket launch involved completing the $3 billion Iridium Next constellation to provide voice and data communication anywhere on the globe.

SpaceX says the Falcon second stage has successfully reached an intermediate orbit.

Delivery of the satellites to create a second-generation communication constellation was expected to start 56 minutes after launch and be complete 1 hour and 12 minutes after blastoff.

SpaceX has blasted off a payload of ten communications satellites for Iridium in its first launch of the year. "The process of replacing the satellites one by one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before".

Iridium is deorbiting its original fleet of satellites.

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