SpaceX launches 10 more Iridium Communications satellites

Features Associated Press

A Falcon 9 SpaceX rocket carrying a communications satellite that will provide television broadcast and data communications services over southeast Europe lifts off from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Friday, June 23, ... 2017. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Ten new satellites for Iridium Communications Inc. have been carried into orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from California.

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The booster lifted off from coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base before dawn Monday. Its first stage successfully returned from space and set down on a landing platform floating in the Pacific Ocean as the second stage went on to deploy the satellites in orbit.

It was the third successful launch in the McLean, Virginia-based company's campaign to replace its entire globe-circling fleet with a total of 75 next-generation communications satellites. Five more SpaceX launches are expected to complete the process by mid-2018.

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The satellites also carry payloads for global real-time aircraft tracking and a ship-tracking service.

The old Iridium satellites are being deorbited.