SpaceX signs deal to launch commercial satellites

SpaceX has signed a $492 million deal with a satellite phone company to launch a fleet of next-generation commercial satellites aboard its Falcon 9 rocket.

The deal will be announced Wednesday. It comes two weeks after Falcon 9 reached orbit on its maiden test flight.

Satellite phone company Iridium Communications previously announced plans to launch six dozen next-generation satellites between 2015 and 2017 to replace its current satellite network. The effort will cost $2.9 billion.

Neither company would say how many Falcon 9 launches would be required to put the satellites into low-Earth orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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