Iridium hails SpaceX launch, dawn of historical 'tech refresh'

Gene Blevins | Reuters

SpaceX's successful launch of 10 satellites for Iridium Communications marks the beginning of one of the biggest "tech refreshes" in history, Iridium said on Saturday, as it hailed the company's first lift-off since an explosion last fall.

The SpaceX Falcon rocket blasted off from California earlier in the day, delivering the satellites into low-Earth orbit about an hour later.

"Today Iridium launches a new era in the history of our company and a new era in space as we start to deliver the next-generation of satellite communications," Iridium CEO Matt Desch said in a statement on Saturday.

Over the next 18 months, Iridium plans several more launches in what it called "the beginning of one of the biggest 'tech refreshes' in history" and "a new era" of space travel, as it aims to replace a host of satellites orbiting the globe.

The company has a seven-flight contract with SpaceX worth $468.1 million and plans to deploy 10 satellites at time.

SpaceX's launch on Saturday was the first since a September explosion during fueling ahead of a pre-flight test in Florida. The explosion destroyed a $62 million SpaceX booster and a $200 million Israeli communications satellite that it was to put into orbit two days later.

—Reuters contributed to this report.