SpaceX Falcon 9 Iridium-8 launch today, live stream

SpaceX Falcon 9 Iridium-8 launch today, live stream

SpaceX Falcon 9 Iridium-8 launch today, live stream

In an image made from the SpaceX webcast, a spacecraft deploys the final set of Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit, January 11, 2019.

After being rescheduled several times, the Falcon 9 rocket officially launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) on Friday morning. Iridium CEO Matt Desch counted down the final seconds.

SpaceX will try to land the Falcon's first stage on an autonomous vessel floating in the ocean.

Throughout the second half of 2018, SpaceX gradually built, tested, launched, and relaunched a growing fleet of Falcon 9 Block 5 boosters, the first of which debuted in May.

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The Falcon 9 mission is separate from that of the Delta IV Heavy rocket, which was also to be launched from Vandenberg in December. This is the eighth and final set of satellites in a series of 75 that have been deployed.

The $3 billion Iridium NEXT constellation has been called one of the biggest "tech upgrade" in space history.

As well as boosting coverage across the globe, the new network will support new services such as Iridium CertusSM, the company's next-generation L-band broadband, and its AireonSM system for global aircraft surveillance and tracking.

The rocket is expected to carry 10 satellites from Iridium into orbit.

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SpaceX launch commentator John Insprucker hailed the end of the launch campaign as he closed off today's webcast, which was watched by tens of thousands on YouTube.

As more Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy Block 5 booster are introduced into SpaceX's growing fleet, the company's many distinct advantages of direct and indirect competitors should come more and more into play and be increasingly hard to avoid or ignore.

SpaceX will once again attempt to recover the previously flown first stage with a landing on the off-shore drone ship "Just Read The Instructions" about seven minutes after liftoff.

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