SpaceX launches 10 Iridium satellites, lands first stage

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Capitalism in space: SpaceX today successfully launched 10 Iridium satellites while also once again successfully landing the Falcon 9 first stage.

This gives them 9 launches for the year, more than any other company or country in the entire world.

One cool personal detail about today’s launch. Diane and I were doing a hike with two friends, and at about 1:20 pm I asked Brian if his Iphone might have signal and could we maybe then watch the launch. Lo and behold, he did have signal, and we were able to connect with SpaceX’s live stream, and were able to take a fifteen minute hiking break to watch the launch and first stage landing while sitting on a mountain trail in the Santa Catalina mountains north of Tucson.

Ain’t technology wonderful?



  • Michael

    In light of the apparent high quality of the landing and the recent Indium announcement that it would consider a re-used booster, combined with the history of SES10 and BulgariaSat, one ponders the possibility that later in the year this same booster might launch another set of Iridium satellites.

    This seems like an Elon kind of thing and would be a major PR coup for all concerned.

  • wayne

    Historical tidbits, from “Sky & Telescope,” volume 35, #6, June, 1968, pages 371-372;
    “Notes on the current Space Race”

    “Successful Russian space launches for April 1966 = 11.”
    (including a suspicious launch- Cosmos 218- thought to be a test of a “fractional-orbiting bombing system.” Yowza!)

    “… not since 1963 has the federal budget allotted so little for space project’s as LBJ’s proposed $4.3 billion for the coming fiscal year.” [this would be for Fiscal year ’68-’69.]

    “The all time high was $7.7 billion in fiscal 1966.”

    “…Apollo accounts for more than one half the federal spending, leaving little for other programs.”

    “In the Michoud rocket assembly plant in New Orlean, where employment has been cut from 13K in 1966 to 7K at present, he [writer] found that the Chrysler Corp has orders to produce only 2 Saturn 1B first stages a year, where as capability is 6. Similarily, Boeing Co. is making only 2, instead of 6, Saturn 5, 1st stages.”
    “At this rate, NASA estimates a single Saturn 5 costs $240 million, where it would cost $139 million each, under a six-a-year schedule.”

  • Willi

    The Russians also did a launch. So, that’s 3 in 3 days. A record?

  • Willi: 3 launches in 3 days by multiple launch organizations is not a record. Not even close. Back in the 70s and 80s the Russians alone would launch about 100 rockets a year. Three launches in there days was not unusual.

  • Diane Wilson

    In somewhat related news, I see that Jeff Bezos is going to build his rockets in Alabama, saying that Washington state’s offer wasn’t even close. So this provides employment for rocket scientists in Alabama, reducing the need to maintain SLS as a jobs program. If Falcon Heavy has a successful first launch in 3 months or so, and Blue Origin coming to Alabama to build its big rockets, how does SLS survive?

  • mkent

    “…and Blue Origin coming to Alabama to build its big rockets…”

    It isn’t. Blue is building its big rockets in Florida. The factory is already under construction. The new factory in Alabama is going to build BE-4 engines, not rockets.

  • Dick Eagleson

    Just to be picky, SpaceX – at least until it also starts doing launches from other bodies in the solar system – will not be worse than tied for launches with the U.S. as a whole.

    To this point in 2017 the standings for launches to orbit or beyond are:

    1st: U.S. – 13
    2nd: SpaceX – 9
    3rd: Russia – 8
    4th: China – 7 (one partial failure)
    5th: 3-way tie – ESA, ULA, India – 4

    ESA has an Ariane 5 scheduled for tomorrow at 1:59 PM PST. That will give them clear title to 5th place, at least temporarily, while ULA and India will be tied for 6th place.

  • Dick Eagleson: My count for the year is a bit different, because I consider the Soyuz launches by Arianespace to belong to Europe, not Russia.

    And yes, you are right, SpaceX might lead all other countries and companies, but because it is part of the U.S. it cannot really beat the U.S. Picky-picky.

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