SpaceX Falcon 9's Iridium satellite launch is a triumph of recycling

Elon Musk and his team over at SpaceX are celebrating another successful launch this morning. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket has carried 10 more Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit, bringing the total number of Iridium satellites in orbit to 50. SpaceX has ferried all of those satellites into orbit over 5 different missions, but even that isn't the most impressive part about today's launch.

What makes this launch extra special is that it was carried out by a used Falcon 9 rocket. In fact, the rocket that shuttled Iridium's satellites into orbit today was used in the third Iridium launch back on October 9. In the end, SpaceX says that it has now performed five Iridium missions with just three rockets – something that's definitely worth celebrating.

So, while today's launch might not be quite as exciting as the company's Falcon Heavy launch last month, there's still plenty of reason to be impressed. SapceX has been working for a long time to ensure that its Falcon rockets can be used repeatedly, which will save a ton of money since SpaceX won't have to construct new rockets for each launch it performs. These Iridium launches have helped prove that the concept can indeed work, with Iridium becoming the first SpaceX customer to reuse Falcon rockets for its missions.

This isn't the end of the road for the partnership between Iridium and SpaceX. Iridium is currently in the process of building out its NEXT constellation of communications satellites, and in all, it will be comprised of 75 satellites. That means it will need a grand total of eight launches to get them all into space, so it won't be very long until we hear about the next one.

Since it has now seen two launches, SpaceX didn't attempt to land today's booster. However, it is attempting to recover part of the fairing, which is the nose cone on the top of the rocket that protects the satellites on their way into space. At the moment, we don't have any word on whether or not recovery attempts were successful, but we'll keep an ear to the ground (or an eye to the heavens) for more. Stay tuned.