Satellite operator Iridium's nearly decade-long effort to build a constellation of internet-beaming satellites, one that would foster better broadband and mobile connectivity on Earth, has finally reached its culmination. On Friday, SpaceX delivered the last ten Iridium Next satellites into low-Earth orbit, completing the 75-unit constellation,
A number of launches over the last few years have slowly pieced together a robust constellation meant to replace Iridium's older satellite phone network, which has since languished after the company hit financial trouble. The new satellites traveled aboard a Falcon 9 rocket that launched from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this morning.
The company shared a play-by-play of the rocket's ascent and deployment on Twitter:
Satellites were indeed deployed:
The constellation should not only smooth internet connectivity on the ground, but also help air traffic and maritime controllers do their jobs as more ships and planes trek through "black zones" that are harder to track via GPS.
This is the start of a busy 2019 for SpaceX, as the company gets to work on fulfilling a variety of contracts and also building its own satellite constellation, "Starlink." The project will ultimately see the aerospace giant launch 7,000 satellites into low-Earth orbit as Elon Musk attempts to realize his dream of building a space-based internet.