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SpaceX Successfully Launched 10 Iridium NEXT Satellites

26 June 2017

The second-stage of the Falcon 9 rocket flew away from Earth and carried the actual satellites with it. SpaceX's billionaire entrepreneur-owner Elon Musk was overflowing with confidence after launching a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral earlier in the week.

"SpaceX on June 23rd launched a previously used ('flight proven") first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket with BulgariaSat-1 on board.

SpaceX's two ambitious Falcon 9 launches this weekend will showcase it's ability to send rockets into space more frequently than its competitors.

After today's launch, SpaceX will be conducting 6 more launches for the Iridium NEXT mission using Falcon 9.

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Here's what the historic weekend launches looked like.

Friday's mission marked the second time SpaceX has put a used, first-stage rocket booster back into space.

"If one can figure out how to effectively reuse rockets just like airplanes, the cost of access to space will be reduced by as much as a factor of a hundred", Musk said.

Musk said in a pre-launch tweet that the arrangements for the landing attempt would be "tight": The ship had to be repositioned due to extreme weather in the Pacific, he said. He suggested on Twitter there was a good chance the rocket booster wouldn't "make it back". SpaceX has invested millions of dollars in equipping its rockets to be reusable and teaching them how to safely pilot themselves to a soft landing.

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On June 23, a Falcon 9 launched the BulgariaSat-1 satellite from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, using a first stage that previously launched the first batch of Iridium Next satellites in January. It was carrying 10 satellites for Iridium Communications.

"BulgariaSat-1 is the first geostationary communications satellite in Bulgaria's history", SpaceX added. The first 10 of these low-orbit satellites were launched in January.

The $3 billion project is a bid to upgrade the Virginia-based Iridium's global communications network.

It was the second time SpaceX has used a flight-proven first stage on a mission. The rocket's primary payload was a set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, which will be included among a commercial network that aims to cover 100 percent of Earth.

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The second rocket featured titanium grid fins, which can withstand re-entry heating better than the previous aluminium design. With the elimination of these blind spots, losing aircraft such as the Malaysia Flight MH370 will become next to impossible.