Those crazy kids at SpaceX are at it again. This time attempting a launch with flight from California.
Watch it all happen live:
The rocket, should it launch, will be a SpaceX Falcon 9. Saturday is the company’s first attempt to send anything to space since last September, when one of their rockets—carrying a $200 million satellite—blew up on a Florida launchpad. This launch was initially slated for last Sunday, but California’s insane storms combined with scheduling conflicts at Vandenberg Air Force Base pushed the operation until 9:54am PT on January 14.
Packed into the Falcon 9’s nosecone are 10 small communications satellites, the first batch in a planned constellation of 66 operated by telecom giant Iridium. The company signed a $468 million contract with SpaceX for seven total launches, with ten satellites each (it will put four backups into orbit), for complete global coverage.
The launches are pretty crucial for Iridium. The company had expected to have its Iridium NEXT fleet fully operational by 2018. However, SpaceX’s investigation of last September’s mishap pushed back that timeline. Now, Iridium is looking at 2019 being its first year with NEXT service, a delay that is costing the company tens of millions in annual revenue. As a result, last October, Iridium began renegotiating with the lenders who financed its NEXT project—which include the French government—for more flexible loan conditions.