Successful Launch of the Next 10 Iridium NEXT Satellites

The second batch of Iridium® NEXT satellites built by Thales Alenia Space has been successfully launched by SpaceX from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After the perfect commissioning of the first 10 satellites launched in January, eight of which are now interconnected and operating in full compatibility with the initial Block One Constellation, with two being maneuvered to an adjacent plane, this milestone marks a new step for the fantastic Iridium® NEXT adventure.

Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor for the Iridium® NEXT program, in charge of engineering, integration, operations and in-orbit validation of the 81 satellites and the overall system. The first 10 satellites showed that Iridium® NEXT is perfectly compatible with the existing system. The satellites are integrated in series by Thales Alenia Space’s subcontractor Orbital ATK, at its Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Arizona while Thales Alenia Space teams are both supervising the global integration process and supporting its customer Iridium for the Launch and Early Operations (LEOP) and In Orbit Tests at the Leesburg control center.

“In addition to being a real feat of technological prowess, Iridium® NEXT also provides global coverage and doesn’t require local ground infrastructure due to how the satellites can communicate with one another, so it can provide vital assistance under certain circumstances (people lost in isolated areas, natural disasters, conflicts, etc.) And that’s why all of us feel so proud to have contributed to this program!” declared Denis Allard, Iridium® NEXT program Director for Thales Alenia Space. He added: “In addition to this second launch, the production of 26 other satellites has now been completed. We have also started integration of the 57th satellite. Everything is on track to meet our objective, namely to launch all 75 Iridium® NEXT orbital satellites by mid-2018”.

The Iridium NEXT® constellation will offer global connectivity thanks to 66 interconnected satellites at an altitude of 780 km, along with nine spares in parking orbits and six more spare satellites on the ground. This international system provides unrivaled capability for communications on the move (individuals, land vehicles, aircraft, ships), and ensures full global coverage, including the oceans.

Source: Thales
Date: Jun 26, 2017