Here's why you don't want to miss SpaceX's Friday launch

Here's why you don't want to miss SpaceX's Friday launch

Kenneth Drake
March 31, 2018

"Falcon 9 and payload are healthy-the teams at Vandenberg are now targeting Friday, March 30 at 7:13 a.m. PDT for the launch of Iridium-5", SpaceX representatives wrote on Twitter Wednesday.

This is SpaceX's fifth launch of Iridium's satellites into what it was, the Iridium constellation.

SpaceX initially aimed to launch the Iridium-5 mission Thursday, but a technical glitch with one of the satellites forced a delay.

The first stage of the rocket launched on Friday had been used in October for a previous launch as part of the project, known as Iridium NEXT.

SpaceX launched another rocket on Friday, and this time it's trying to land the $6 million nose cone into a giant seaborne net.

The company has quietly tried to recapture the 43-foot-long fairing halves since at least March of 2017.

The value of these fairings is about six million US dollars, and recovering and reusing them would save money for SpaceX.

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The total cost of one of its Falcon 9 launches is estimated to reach £44 million ($61m), while each of its larger Falcon Heavy flights costs £65 million ($90m).

The odds of Mr. Steven, owned by Louisiana-based company SeaTran, successfully capturing the fairing on Friday probably aren't good.

It is expected that the constellation will be completed this year. SpaceX has signed on to deliver 75 Iridium satellites to orbit in total. Iridium is now in the process of building out its NEXT constellation of communications satellites, and in all, it will be comprised of 75 satellites.

According to the company, it is on track to fully replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites in what will be one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history.

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 satellite communications company has partnered with Thales Alenia Space for the manufacturing, assembling and testing of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites.

SpaceX is flanking the weekend with two launches from opposite coasts - the first of which is taking place this morning from California.