SpaceX has successfully launched the eighth and final set of satellites as part of the Iridium-8 next-generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, followed by the successful landing of the Falcon 9 rocket.
The Iridium-8 constellation is a specialised global positioning system (GPS) delivering position, navigation and timing services supporting US and allied military operations around the world.
The Iridium/GPS III mission also supports critical financial, transportation and agricultural infrastructure used by billions of users globally on a daily basis.
The US Air Force’s first GPS III satellite will augment the current constellation of 31 operational GPS satellites. This newest generation of GPS satellites is designed and built to deliver positioning, navigation and timing information with three times better accuracy, and up to eight times improved anti-jamming capability. GPS is used by over 4 billion users and supports critical missions worldwide.
Following stage separation, the first stage of Falcon 9 successfully landed SpaceX's 'Just Read the Instructions' droneship stationed in the Pacific Ocean.
Falcon 9 is a two-stage rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX for the transport of satellites and the Dragon spacecraft into orbit. The Falcon 9 system is the first orbital class rocket capable of 're-flight', that is, being capable of re-use and multiple orbital launches per unit.
Falcon 9’s simple two-stage configuration minimises the number of separation events – and with nine first-stage engines, it can safely complete its mission even in the event of an engine shutdown.
The Iridium constellation was first envisioned in the early 1990s. The next-generation Iridium NEXT constellation, a second-generation global network of telecommunications satellites, consists of 66 active satellites, supported by an additional nine in-orbit and six on-the-ground spare satellites.
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