Malcolm Denemark — AP

10 next-generation satellites are already loaded in the Falcon 9.

By Kirsten Korosec
December 30, 2016
December 30, 2016

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is now loaded with 10 satellites as the company led by Elon Musk prepares for its first launch since an explosion in September.

Iridium Communications, a mobile voice and data satellite communications company, tweeted Friday that 10 of its next-generation satellites were now “stacked and encapsulated” in the fairing of the Falcon 9. Musk later retweeted the update.

Iridium announced early this month plans to launch its next-generation satellite, Iridium NEXT, on SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California was scheduled for December 16. However, the flight is contingent on the FAA’s approval of SpaceX’s return to flight following an anomaly explosion that occurred on September 1 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

SpaceX has not provided a detailed explanation on what caused the explosion. Musk did say during an interview on CNBC that the failure involved a combination of liquid helium, the rocket’s carbon-fiber materials, and supercooled solid oxygen.

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SpaceX said earlier this month it was aiming for January for its first flight since the explosion.

After the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded during a test firing in September, the company postponed its planned launches. SpaceX lost at least one customer following the explosion.

British satellite company Inmarsat said in December it will cancel plans to launch its S-band satellite with SpaceX and switch to rival Arianespace. The new satellite will provide broadband connectivity to air passengers.

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