SpaceX Launches Maritime Industry's Future

6/26/2017

Commercial rocket company SpaceX is helping satcom providers reshape maritime communications – and it's creating a "spaceport" cottage industry of its own. The firm's first-stage rockets return to earth by landing on refitted deck barges, which must unload at seaports – a new and novel cargo category for two port operators. 

SpaceX has launch contracts for Iridium Next, exactEarth AIS (on the same Iridium satellites) and Inmarsat Global Xpress. Inmarsat-5 Flight 4 took off from Kennedy Space Center in Florida in May, successfully deploying a Global Xpress satellite in geosynchronous orbit over the equator. The flight's first stage rocket made an uneventful landing on SpaceX's drone ship about nine minutes later (below).

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