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SpaceX launches last batch of Iridium satellites

SpaceX launch
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base, carrying 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into space. (SpaceX via YouTube)

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket deployed the eighth and final set of next-generation Iridium satellites into orbit today, closing off a two-year launch campaign.

The rocket rose into partly cloudy skies from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base at 7:31 a.m. PT after a trouble-free countdown. Iridium CEO Matt Desch counted down the final seconds.

Minutes after liftoff, the first-stage booster separated and made an at-sea touchdown on a drone landing ship called “Just Read the Instructions,” hundreds of miles out in the Pacific Ocean.

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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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