SpaceX Wraps Up Iridium Missions
SpaceX launched its eighth and final batch of Iridium Next communications satellites into orbit on Jan. 11, 2019, completing the constellation of 75 satellites. See photos of the historic mission here! [Full Story: SpaceX Launches 10 Iridium Satellites Into Orbit, Then Sticks Rocket Landing]
Ready for Launch in 3, 2, 1 ...
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Iridium-8 mission stands atop Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 Iridium Next communications satellites lifts off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California
A Flawless Liftoff
The Iridium-8 mission lifted off from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 7:31 a.m. local time (10:31 a.m. EST, 1531 GMT).
Flames and Smoke
Smoke billows out from underneath the Falcon 9 rocket just seconds after liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
A close-up photo of the Iridium-8 launch reveals the rocket's flames in stunning detail.
A Dazzling View of the West Coast
The Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Iridium-8 mission rides a pillar of flame into the morning sky after lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Pacific Ocean is visible in the background.
Deploying the Satellites
The ninth satellite in the final batch of the Iridium Next constellation deployed about 70 minutes after the SpaceX Falcon 9 launched on Jan. 11.
Heading Back Home
The Falcon 9 rocket booster returns to Earth after delivering the Iridium-8 mission into orbit.
After launching the Iridium-8 mission, the first stage of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket returned to Earth and stuck an upright landing on the droneship "Just Read the Instructions" about seven minutes after liftoff.
The Falcon Soars to the Skies
After a successful liftoff from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the Falcon 9 rocket soared into space to deliver the Iridium satellites into orbit.
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Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at FutureFlight.aero and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at Space.com. As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the Space.com team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.