In fact, the booster that launched today's Iridium-5 mission also launched 10 other Iridium Next satellites on October 9 during SpaceX's Iridium-3 mission. SpaceX did not attempt to recover Falcon 9's first stage after launch. The satellites carry equipment for Aireon LLC's air traffic surveillance system created to provide airlines with frequent updates of aircraft positions, speeds and altitudes, even over remote oceanic and polar areas.
Elon Musk and his team over at SpaceX are celebrating another successful launch this morning. "The new satellites and services we're launching and continued strong subscriber growth are cementing our position as an industry leader and critical global communications platform and underscore the significant transformation we've undergone as a company over the last 10 years". Based in McLean, Virginia, Iridium provides mobile voice and data communications.
For Friday's launch, a ship, named Mr. Steven, went out to sea and attempted to catch half of the fairing with a giant net. The cords on the GPS-guided parafoil got twisted, causing the fairing to hit the water at a high speed instead of landing more gently in the boat's catcher's net.
By the time I finished the simulation, which took about 15 minutes, I was impressed by the crisp quality of the digital graphics, even when I moved up close to inspect the spacecraft.
This is one of many missions that SpaceX is carrying out for Iridium. Part of a $3 billion project, this was the fifth such launch for Iridium with three more scheduled later this year.
The Iridium satellites will be deployed into an hour after the Falcon 9 lifts off from California.
According to Musk, SpaceX was unsuccessful in recovering the fairing.