Watch The SpaceX Iridium-2 Launch LIVE

With its second launch in 48 hours, SpaceX will attempt to launch the Iridium-2 mission into orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Watch the Iridium-2 launch live below. The live stream will start about 10 mins before the launch. Launch is to take place at 1:25 PM PDT. 

Iridium-2 Launch
Falcon 9 and 10 Iridium NEXT satellites are vertical on SLC-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Image Courtesy: SpaceX

Mission Overview

SpaceX Iridium-2 mission patchSpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 satellites to low Earth orbit for Iridium, a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications. This is the second set of 10 satellites in a series of 75 total satellites that SpaceX will launch for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium® NEXT. SpaceX is targeting launch of Iridium-2 from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window is at 1:25 p.m. PDT, or 20:25 UTC, on Sunday, June 25. The satellites will begin deployment about an hour after launch. A backup launch opportunity opens at 1:19 p.m. PDT, or 20:19 UTC, on Monday, June 26. Following stage separation, the first stage of Falcon 9 will attempt a landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship that will be stationed in the Pacific Ocean.

Iridium-1 landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship
Iridium-1 landing on the “Just Read the Instructions” droneship. Courtesy: SpaceX


The payloads for this launch are the second set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites. Iridium NEXT will 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. Iridium has partnered with Thales Alenia Space for the manufacturing, assembly and testing of all 81 Iridium NEXT satellites, 75 of which will be launched by SpaceX.

The process of replacing the satellites one-by-one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before. Iridium NEXT is enabling the development of new and innovative products and solutions across Iridium’s vast partner ecosystem that provide services for aviation, maritime, Internet of Things, terrestrial and government organizations. This will include Iridium CertusSM, the Company’s next generation multiservice communications platform enabled by Iridium NEXT, which will deliver faster speeds and higher throughputs across multiple industry verticals.

A service of this quality and value is unprecedented in the industry, and is poised to disrupt the current market status quo. Among the new technologies hosted by Iridium NEXT is the AireonSM aircraft tracking and surveillance system. In a historic first, upon completion this system will provide air traffic control organizations and aircraft operators that purchase the service with 100 percent, real-time, global visibility of their aircraft.

Iridium’s primary launch campaign consists of eight SpaceX Falcon 9 launches deploying 75 Iridium NEXT satellites. These 75 Iridium NEXT satellites are scheduled to be deployed by mid-2018. Iridium is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Iridium enables real time connections between people, organizations and assets to and from anywhere.

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)

Hour/Min/Sec Events
– 01:08:00 Launch Conductor takes launch readiness poll
– 01:00:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading underway
– 00:35:00 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading underway
– 00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
– 00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
– 00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
– 00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
– 00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
  00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff

Hour/Min/Sec Events
00:01:09 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:24 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:28 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:35 2nd stage engine starts
00:03:16 Fairing deployment
00:05:48 1st stage entry burn begins
00:07:45 1st stage landing
00:09:04 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
00:52:06 2nd stage engine restarts
00:52:09 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-2)
00:57:10 Iridium NEXT satellites begin deployment
01:12:00 Iridium NEXT satellites end deployment

Launch Facility

Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California SpaceX’s Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base has a long history dating back to the early 1960s. Originally an Atlas launch pad activated in 1962, SLC-4E was in active use until its last Titan IV launch in 2005. SpaceX’s groundbreaking was in July 2011, and the pad was completed just 17 months later in November 2012. SpaceX took advantage of some existing pad infrastructure, but implemented extensive modifications and reconstruction of the launch complex. Part of the renovation included tearing down a 30+ story mobile service tower and a 20+ story umbilical tower. 97 percent of these units were recycled. SLC-4E consists of a concrete launch pad/apron and a flame exhaust duct. Surrounding the pad are fuel storage tanks and an integration hangar. Before launch, Falcon 9’s stages, fairing and the mission payload are housed inside the hangar. A crane/lift system moves Falcon 9 into a transporter erector system and the fairing and its payload are mated to the rocket. The vehicle is rolled from the hangar to the launch pad shortly before launch to minimize exposure to the elements.

Mission overview, Mission timeline, Payload and Launch facility information provided by SpaceX.


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