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SpaceX satellite launch sparks sky spectacle

SpaceX launch
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket blasts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. (SpaceX via YouTube)

SpaceX has sent 10 more satellites into orbit for the Iridium NEXT constellation, passing the halfway point in its 75-satellite launch contract.

The satellites went into space aboard a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket launched at 5:27 p.m. PT today from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, and were deployed sequentially into pole-to-pole orbits.

The first-stage booster was initially used for an Iridium mission in June, and then was recovered and refurbished for today’s launch. The contrail that was created during the booster’s descent provided a spectacle that was visible in sunset skies throughout Southern California.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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