The first batch of Iridium Next satellites, the total number of which is 81, will soon leave the design base to go into space on SpaceX Falcon 9 missiles in September. The satellites will deliver in pairs in military trucks to Vandenberg airbase, where it will launch from September 11 to September 12 2016 year. This will be the third Falcon 9 flight from Vandenberg base and the first launch from there with a modernized version of the launch vehicle with more powerful Merlin engines and super-cooled rocket fuel. SpaceX will deliver a modified version to the launch pad at the end of summer.
The assembly of the first two Iridium Next satellites was completed last month and now Iridium plans to produce one satellite per week until the end of 2017.
“The release of one satellite per week is a truly impressive achievement in satellite production and something new that people will strive for in the future,” said Frank Culbertson, president of Orbital ATK, who oversees the final assembly of Iridium Next by agreement with the general contractor Thales Alenia Space. Continue reading