Watch SpaceX launch 10 satellites AND land rocket HERE

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch

The Falcon 9 will be carrying a payload of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites.

The Iridium-8 mission launched from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at California's Vandenburg Air Force Base at 1531 UTC, sending into orbit the remaining 10 satellites on the company's books for Iridium's next-generation global satellite constellation. Iridium CEO Matt Desch counted down the final seconds.

The booster took on its first launch last September, to send the Telstar 18 Vantage satellite into space.

'There it is, right in the middle of the bullseye, ' said SpaceX commentator John Innsbrucker, as live images showed the first stage of the rocket standing upright on the droneship named 'Just Read the Instructions'.

SpaceX has been experimenting with techniques to recover the Falcon 9's nose cone and save millions of dollars in manufacturing costs, but no recovery attempt was made today.

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

Taken together, the Iridium satellite deployments represent an ambitious project that SpaceX refers to as "one of the largest "tech upgrades" in space history".

The 10 spacecraft launched today are the final batch that will replace Iridium's obsolete generation of telecom satellites. The new system will enable advanced satellite broadband services and aircraft surveillance and tracking.

The new Iridium NEXT fleet will feature 66 operational satellites and nine on-orbit spares.

But instead of allowing the first stage, or booster, to fall into the ocean as trash, SpaceX's Falcon 9 fires its engines, maneuvers its grid fins and makes a controlled landing back on Earth.

Of course, Falcon 9 is but a mere stepping stone to Elon's mighty Starship, and His Muskiness unveiled a finished version of the test flight rocket at SpaceX's Texas facility this morning.

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