SpaceX launched its third batch of 10 Iridium Next communications satellites from California today on a Falcon 9 rocket, then brought down the first-stage booster for a landing on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean.
The launch was the first of two planned this week by SpaceX.
Today’s Falcon 9 lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:37 a.m. PT, loaded up with satellites that are destined to become part of Iridium’s $3 billion next-generation constellation for broadband data services.
The constellation will eventually comprise 66 operational satellites, plus orbital spares. SpaceX sent up two earlier batches of 10, in January and June, as part of an eight-launch deal with Iridium.