A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, is carrying satellite history.

On board are 10 Iridium satellites, the last batch needed to encircle the world from space and provide global communications technology.

Military, maritime, scientific, and aviation industries are among Iridium’s more than 430 customers, as well as businesses that provide GPS tracking, outlets that use anti-poaching tags for elephants, and a company that affixes tiny Iridium antennas to manhole covers to...