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SpaceX's announcement came hours after U.S. defense, security and aerospace

The company said it aims to improve aircraft tracking and surveillance systems. When the full satellite system is completed, Iridium said it hopes air traffic control and aircraft operators will purchase its service, which will provide real-time, global visibility of aircraft that are equipped with automatic dependent surveillance — broadcast technologies.

Payload adapters provided by SpaceX have released Iridium satellites from Falcon 9 rockets without issue, Desch says, adding that he is confident about the company’s due diligence. On Monday he that SpaceX aims to launch the fifth group of Iridium NEXT communications satellites at 8:19 a.m. Pacific time on March 18, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This will be the fifth time a Falcon 9 will launch Iridium NEXT satellites.Northrop Grumman, which built Zuma, declined to comment on whether

Thus the U.S. military and NASA provide the core of ULA’s business and the source of much of its income and profits. The Atlas V uses Russian RD-180 engines, who’s use has become highly contentious since the deadly crisis in Ukraine erupted in 2014.

SpaceX is now certified by the Air Force for the right to compete for US national security satellites launches using Falcon 9 rockets such as this one which successfully launched the SES-8 communications satellite on Dec. 3, 2013 from Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Credit: Ken Kremer/

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