The Official Iridium-8 Launch Patch (Photo courtesy Iridium)
The Official Iridium-8 Launch Patch (Photo courtesy Iridium)

SpaceX launches final batch of next-gen satellites

ANI | Updated: Jan 15, 2019 17:44 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Jan 15 (ANI): Following two years of launches, SpaceX completed a major upgrade to a key telecommunications satellite network on Friday.
A Falcon 9 rocket built by Elon Musk's space venture managed to launch the final ten satellites of a 75-piece constellation for Iridium (IRDM), a satellite operator, just after 7.30am from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base, reported CNN.
Dubbed Iridium NEXT, the second-generation satellite network aims to offer improved satellite-based internet and phone services as well as marine and air traffic monitoring.
Iridium later on confirmed that all 10 new satellites had "successfully communicated" with ground systems.
However, the company is not quite over the finishing line yet, Iridium CEO Matt Desch said in a statement, "...there is still some work to do to put these satellites into operation," adding, "Once that's complete, our future will be in place. I'm just incredibly proud of our team right now."
Iridium selected SpaceX in March 2010 to be the sole launch partner for the Iridium NEXT. The companies signed a contract, worth $448 million, for seven launches. An eighth launch, for which SpaceX was paid $61.9 million, was added later.
SpaceX launched the first group of Iridium NEXT satellites on January 14, 2017, and has delivered a batch of Iridium satellites into orbit every few months since then.
The $3 billion Iridium NEXT network promises quicker connections. (ANI)