A SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle successfully launched ten Iridium NEXT spacecraft, this is the third of eight contracted for the firm. The launch took place from the Vandenberg launch site in California at 1237 GMT on 9 October. Following its separation, the Falcon 9v1.2FT-R had its first stage landed down range on a floating barge called “Just Read The Instructions” in the Pacific. The 860 kg Second-generation mobile communications satellites were released into a near polar low Earth orbit one by one by the dispenser. The new “Iridium NEXT” satellites will raise themselves into their operational orbit in order to replace old satellites from the original Iridium constellation.

Third launch of Iridium NEXT satellites by Falcon 9. Courtesy: USAF