Credit: Iridium/SpaceX

Team Vandenberg in California is scheduled to launch the Iridium NEXT satellite on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex-4 today, Sunday, June 25, at 1:25 p.m. PDT.

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.

Credit: SpaceX

On Friday, SpaceX successfully rocketed into orbit a Bulgarian communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If all goes well, the back-to-back, bi-coastal launches (and landings of the Falcon 9’s first stage) would be a private-sector milestone and constitute a “weekend doubleheader.”

Network replacement

This is the second of eight planned Iridium NEXT launches.  Each launch will contribute to replacing the company’s commercial satellite network. This launch will deliver the second payload of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit, bringing the total to 20 Iridium NEXT satellites in space.

Credit: Iridium

Iridium NEXT is replacing the Company’s existing constellation of satellites with more powerful capabilities, including Aireon’s space-based global real-time aircraft surveillance and tracking service.

Series of launches

Iridium has partnered with SpaceX for a series of eight launches scheduled to take place through mid-2018, delivering a total of 75 satellites to low-Earth orbit.

Iridium NEXT is the company’s $3 billion next-generation mobile, global satellite network scheduled for completion in 2018.

Flight safety system

This will be the first launch for Col. Michael S. Hough, 30th Space Wing commander, who took command on June 9th.

“As a side, this will also be our first launch with the Autonomous Flight Safety System, which is expected to help decrease launch costs and improve turnaround times between launches,” Hough said in an Air Force statement.

The Autonomous Flight Safety System debuted on its maiden flight from Kennedy Space Center on a Falcon 9 rocket earlier this year, leveraging software developed at the 30th Space Wing.

Live feed

A live feed of the launch will be available starting twenty minutes prior to launch at:


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