It’s the first launch since the launchpad explosion that wrecked Spacecom’s Amos 5 last September.
The new launch took place from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
While weekend media coverage made mention of last year’s setback, it was the long-term Space-X plan to provide commercial transport into space that grabbed the headlines, alongside the start of Iridum’s mission to replace its entire satellite fleet.
“We are very proud to be chosen as the launch provider for the entire Iridium NEXT program and are excited about today’s successful first launch,” said Gwynne Shotwell, President of SpaceX. “Iridium was one of SpaceX’s first customers, and working alongside them to deliver one of the largest aerospace projects underway is an exciting moment for us at SpaceX.”
Once fully deployed, Iridium NEXT will enable a new broadband multi-service capability called Iridium Certus.
Among those technologies is a unique hosted payload from Iridium’s partner Aireon, which will provide a real-time global aircraft surveillance service, extending aircraft visibility across the planet.