SpaceX Successfully Launches Its Long-Awaited Iridium-5 Mission

The Iridium-5 Mission launch, the latest from SpaceX, was pulled off successfully, continuing the momentum for the next launch planned for April 2nd.

SpaceX successfully launched the Iridium-5 Falcon 9 Mission on Friday, March 30, 7:13 a.m. PDT.

During the launch, SpaceX cut the feed due to restrictions from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Michael Hammersley, SpaceX materials engineer, said, "Due to certain restrictions from NOAA, SpaceX will intentionally end the live video coverage of the second stage prior to the engine shutdown." He further added that they would be working towards adding live views from the orbit in the future and were in discussion with the NOAA to lift these restrictions. 

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The Preparation Behind the Launch

On this occasion, the launch did not include an attempt at recovery of the first stage booster; however, the flight-proven rocket was reused. Also, SpaceX did attempt to recover half of the payload fairing which was used in the launch. This is a protective metal shield used to cover the cargo as the rocket is en route to space and blasts through the atmosphere. The payload fairing alone costs a whopping $6 million. Speaking on the subject of the fairing, Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO, indicated that it would be easier to restore this part for a future flight provided that their recovery plans are successful.  

According to Musk, SpaceX was unsuccessful in recovering the fairing. During its return to Earth, the parafoil which controls the descent of the fairing became twisted. As a result, instead of alighting softly on the barge as planned, the component crashed into the water at a high velocity. 

At the same time, commercial communication to Iridium clients on the ground was made successful as the 10 satellites were deployed to the Low-Earth orbit as planned. This spectacular launch represents the sixth launch of 2018, including the Falcon Heavy launch in February as well as the fifth Falcon 9 launch.

Continuing with their launch mission, another Falcon 9 launch is scheduled to take place on April 2. With this launch, it will be the twelfth commercial resupply mission in which SpaceX will fly to the International Space Station. 

As all eyes turn to the next Falcon launch on April 2, it will be interesting to see how the issue of the live video footage will be handled. Well, the good news at least is that SpaceX does not expect to face a similar issue with its next launch. This is most likely due to NOAA' action of issuing a license for SpaceX which includes certain conditions related to their live streaming capabilities from space. The launch of used Falcon 9 rocket, which will carry the Dragon cargo ship, is the source of attention for space launch enthusiasts who eagerly await the next in a string of exciting missions in store for SpaceX.

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