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Why Are People Freaking Out About These Boring SpaceX Satellites?

SpaceX pulled off another successful launch today, lofting a set of new polar-orbiting satellites. By itself, this Falcon 9 launch isn't unique. It's the fifth SpaceX launch this year. The launch was far less pioneering than SpaceX's maiden flight of the more massive Falcon Heavy rocket (carrying a Tesla car and a mannequin called "Starman") in February. SpaceX did reuse one of its rockets for today's liftoff, but that's old hat by now for the space company, which started reusing rockets exactly a year ago. Yet, the new launch still generated worldwide attention. Why? The answer has to do with what SpaceX launched: a set of satellites that will expand Iridium's Internet of Things (IoT) NEXT network. Earlier today (March 30), at 10:13 a.m. EDT (1413 GMT), SpaceX lofted the fifth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The launch was successful, according to Iridium. "All 10 new satellites have successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operation Center and are preparing to begin testing," the company wrote in an update. The 50 satellites currently in Iridum's NEXT network, including the 10 new ones, are improving tracking of IoT devices. The IoT refers to a growing trend of connecting common appliances or objects (such as fridges or shipping containers) to the internet to share information. "These devices are designed to do everything from tracking endangered species and monitoring power lines, to controlling shipping container temperature levels or serving as tsunami warning systems," Iridium said of its NEXT-tracked points of contact.

Read More: Live Science

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