The Iridium-NEXT satellites were launched for McLean, Virginia-based satellite operator Iridium Communications.
American aerospace company SpaceX on Friday successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 telecommunications satellites from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in Southern California. Iridium confirmed shortly before noon that all 10 satellites had reached orbit and transmitted signals.
Iridium says all of the satellites were successfully released into low Earth orbit and are communicating with its network operations center.
The first stage of the rocket sent aloft on Friday had been used in October for a previous launch as part of the project, known as Iridium NEXT. This is the fifth launch for the company, carrying 10 satellites in what will eventually be a constellation of 75 communications satellites called Iridium Next.
Musk, who is also the co-founder and chief executive of electric automaker Tesla Inc., said in 2015 that SpaceX planned to launch a satellite-internet business that would help fund a future city on Mars. The launch happened exactly a year after SpaceX first launched and landed a used Falcon 9 rocket.
The Iridium project, though less flamboyant, will replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites in one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history, improving mobile, voice and data networks, Iridium has said. Each launch strategically delivers new satellites to specific orbital planes to ensure the earliest possible completion of the constellation. Once complete, the constellation will consist of 66 active satellites, nine orbiting spares and six ground spares.
SpaceX did not seek to recover the booster after the launch, but did deploy a boat nicknamed "Mr. Steven" to attempt to catch one of the payload fairing halves as they fell toward the Pacific Ocean.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter the fairing "impacted water at high speed", without confirming explicitly if the landing was successful or not. And last December, Iridium became the first SpaceX customer to launch a mission on a rocket it used before when the Iridium-4 mission launched with the same booster SpaceX used to launch 10 other satellites on its Iridium-2 flight in June 2017. "Doing helo drop tests in next few weeks to solve".