A liftoff date for 10 of Iridium's next-generation satellites is planned for December 16 at 12:36 p.m. PT, via a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, pending authorization by the Federal Aviation Administration. The news first came via a tweet sent from Iridium's account. SpaceX launches had been suspended since September 1, after an unsuccessful test launch caused a massive explosion. Research concluded that the explosion was caused by a fueling problem.
SpaceX would not disclose the extent of the damage at its main launch site in Florida. The Iridium satellites will be launched aboard Falcon 9 from SpaceX’s California launch facility at Vandenberg Air Force Base.Iridium intends to replace its current mobile communications network with 81 new satellites created by Italy’s Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture of Thales SA and Leonardo Finmeccanica SpA under a contract estimated to be worth $2.8 billion. SpaceX is contractually obligated to launch at least 70 of the satellites.
Approval of the launch by the FAA hasn't been confirmed yet. SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.