SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket delivers 10 satellites into orbit

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The Space Exploration Technologies rocket roared away at 7:13 a.m. into clear skies above Space Launch Complex-4 on South Base.

"Successful deployment of all 10 @IridiumComm NEXT satellites to low-Earth orbit confirmed", the Hawthorne, California-based company tweeted.

Friday's launch used the same first-stage rocket from Iridium's similar mission in October. The mission involves the fifth set of 10 satellites being launched for the project. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter that as the nose cone - also called a fairing - fell back toward Earth, the parafoils that were supposed to slow its decent became tangled.

For Friday's launch a ship, named Mr. Steven, will head out to sea and attempt to catch half of the fairing with a giant net.

Friday is exactly one year to the day after SpaceX's first used Falcon 9 rocket launch and landing. To do that, Iridium has bought eight Falcon 9 launches for a total of $536 million.

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At least twice, SpaceX guided fairing halves to soft landings in the ocean.

The odds of Mr. Steven, owned by Louisiana-based company SeaTran, successfully capturing the fairing on Friday probably aren't good.

The firm previously attempted to use the giant "claw boat" back in February, but missed catching the nose cone then as well. Iridium is now in the process of building out its NEXT constellation of communications satellites, and in all, it will be comprised of 75 satellites. The FCC said it would have to fly 50% of the constellation by 2024, but that it would reconsider delays in the years ahead.

The company plans to have a total of 75 satellites launched into orbit by mid-2018. The process of replacing the satellites one by one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before. Space.com has reached out to SpaceX and NOAA for clarification. There are plans for three more launches in the series, according to the company, with the next likely to occur sometime in May.

SpaceX is flanking the weekend with two launches from opposite coasts - the first of which is taking place this morning from California. Another used Falcon 9 rocket will launch an uncrewed Dragon cargo ship, which has also flown previously, to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

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