SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 5:27 p.m. It carried 10 Iridium NEXT communication satellites, which will be operated by Iridium Communications.
The 10 satellites were successfully deployed. This is the fourth batch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to enter low-Earth orbit. The first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites were launched on January 14. Meanwhile, the second set was escalated in space on June 25, and the third on October 8.
There must be 66 satellites to complete the Iridium NEXT network, making it possible to send and receive satellite phone calls. The company is planning to launch 15 in-orbit spares, and SpaceX is going to put 75 of the 81 planned satellites into space, according to CBS News.
Meanwhile, it is the 18th launch of SpaceX this year. The launch was seen across southern California. Many residents expressed their excitement and praised the amazing launch of Falcon 9.
SpaceX founder Elon Musk posted a video of the launching and titled the tweet, “Nuclear Alien UFO from North Korea.” A viewer also saw the rocket and said that she had just seen a nuclear bomb.
Many people took pictures and videos of the launching in the sky. Some people did not know it was a rocket launch of SpaceX. So, the Los Angeles Fire Department issued an advisory that the “mysterious light in the sky” was a rocket launch, according to NBC News.
Nuclear alien UFO from North Korea pic.twitter.com/GUIHpKkkp5
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 23, 2017
Jimmy Golen, a sports writer for The Associated Press in Boston described it as very cool. He further said that people were wondering if it had something to do with movies or TV or even a UFO.
— Amanda (@alias_amanda) December 23, 2017
Iridium NEXT aims to meet the demand for global communications worldwide. It provides coverage of nearly 100 percent of the planet’s surface, including seas, polar regions, and airways.
The Iridium satellites are about 1,896 pounds. A satellite has the capacity to communicate with up to four others to deliver the network globally. All the satellites were conceptualized by Thales Alenia Space, which is an aerospace company based in Europe. The satellites were developed by Orbital ATK in Arizona.
Meanwhile, it is expected that SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will carry a Tesla Roadster sports car in the coming year. The space company is also planning three launches using the Falcon 9 rocket in January 2018.