SpaceX has launched the Falcon 9 Iridium-4 mission from Vandenburg, CA. This mission is the halfway point of SpaceX's plan to put a network of 75 satellites into low-earth orbit. The constellation is set up to make air traffic control a trivial oversight. The network is supposed to be able to link all air traffic controllers with all flights on the entire planet; from pole to pole, all around the equator, every single flight should be visible.
This is a huge advantage is air traffic controlling because it means that flights can divert in larger arcs from their paths without going into an invisible zone. This particular launch will send 10 of the 75 satellites into space.
This launch comes at a busy time for the industry. Not only is SpaceX launching satellites into earth's orbit, but it is also anticipating sending a payload to orbit Mars. These advancements don't come for free, so it's important for the company to perform projects that prove that they know what they are doing in order to collect investors. With any luck, this type of project will transform into some other much-needed spacefaring expeditions: a manned mission to Mars, or a global Wi-Fi network that spans the entirety of Earth.
The SpaceX twitter feed has a live stream of the events. The rocket is set to release 10 Iridium Next satellites into earth's orbit for us in the network. This is a landmark launch in that the launch materials that are being used are recycled; however, SpaceX is not planning on recovering the materials again, despite the fact that the three most recent launches were recovered.
This is mainly because the materials used in the launch were not designed to be re-used more than a few times; however, the company has declared that the next generation of rockets is designed to be used ten or even more times. This is extremely important to the future of space travel: as materials, parts, and architecture become cheaper and more re-usable, space travel will become more affordable and more commonplace.
Lift-off was achieved at 8:28 PM EST.
Liftoff! https://t.co/gtC39uBC7z— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 23, 2017
According to the LA Times, the launch could be seen from all over Southern California. People took to social media, amazed by the light show created by the rocket's ascent into space.
As of 10 PM EST, SpaceX announced that all 10 satellites were safely in place.
Iridium has acquired healthy signals from all 10 satellites.— SpaceX (@SpaceX) December 23, 2017