SpaceX has launched a Falcon 9 rocket into space in its first mission of 2019 — and its last for satellite company Iridium.
For the past two years, SpaceX has been sending customer Iridium’s replacement communication satellites into orbit, as part of Iridium Next, a new global network costing US$3-billion.
Iridium-8 is the eighth and final mission for Iridium, launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
It is carrying 10 satellites to join the other 65 that have been put into space at since 14 January 2017.
SpaceX also carried out its first successful rocket landing of the year, with the first stage of Falcon 9 touching down on an autonomous drone ship called “Just Read the Instructions”, in the Pacific Ocean.
The Elon Musk-founded aerospace firm carried out 18 missions in 2017 and 21 in 2018 — a company record. It already has 39 lined up for the future, for a range of organisations including Nasa and Airbus.