Iridium completes historic launch of ten satellites
On January 11, 2019, Iridium announced that at 07:30 p.m. Pacific time, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, tested in flight, with the last ten Iridium NEXT satellites for the low-orbit (LEO) group was launched from the Air Force base in Vandenberg. All ten satellites have successfully established communications with the Iridium Satellite Network Operations Center and are ready for preliminary testing in orbit. It was the eighth and final launch as part of the historic Iridium and SpaceX campaign, in which 75 new satellites were deployed in orbit in less than two years.
Iridium NEXT Satellite operator Iridium has invested about $ 3 billion to replace its original satellite system with a new modern network, ushering in an era of investment and innovation change for the company. The foundation of these changes can be considered the redirection of cash flows in parallel with the reduction of the company’s capital expenditures for construction, the existence in reality, where a 10-year or more distant investment horizon allows you to earn serious profits from old and newly offered services. In particular, Iridium Certus, which provides the fastest and only L-band w / band connection on the planet, making high-speed mob available. Internet access using smaller and more economical terminals; Iridium Aireon is an aircraft surveillance system that for the first time expanded the visibility of aircraft for air traffic controllers and airlines to the entire planet online.
“It was an honor for me to deliver seventy-five new Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit. It was incredibly fun working with Matt and the entire Iridium NEXT team, ”said Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX. “On behalf of all our employees, we congratulate Iridium on reaching this incredible milestone.”
The Iridium satellite constellation differs from others in orbit and is the only communication network with inter-polar coverage of the entire planet. It consists of 6 planes of the polar orbit, each of which contains 11 cross-linked satellites with a total of 66 in the working constellation, creating a network of coverage around the Earth. 10 Iridium NEXT satellites were launched as part of the latest mission. Since the launches began, the constellation has replaced one-on-one old satellites with new ones, achieved by special maneuvers in space, known as “slot exchange.”
“There are a few words to describe what it is like to complete a project that began many years ago when I joined the company, and what it means for Iridium and our future,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “We are grateful to SpaceX for helping to launch a new generation of satellites into orbit so impeccably.” That it is impossible to express in words. However, for Iridium, we are not drawing the finish line, as some work still needs to be done to bring these satellites into operation. Once this is completed, our future will come true. Now I’m just incredibly proud of our team. ”
ThalesToday, new satellites make up 60 of the 66 satellites in operation, and the last six are scheduled for activation in the coming weeks. Iridium NEXT satellites were designed by Thales Alenia Space, which acts as the system’s general contractor, and are integrated by Thales subcontractor, Northrop Grumman. The production process uses a modern assembly line with 18 stations for all 81 Iridium NEXT satellites being created.
“The fully deployed Iridium NEXT is perhaps the most high-performing and most advanced constellation in the world today that represents the state of the art in terms of technology and flexibility, and Thales Alenia Space is so proud to have accepted this huge challenge. I would like to thank Iridium for trusting us, and to thank everyone in my company, Iridium and our partners for working as a single team, and all for the sole purpose of bringing the constellation into orbit as quickly as possible, while guaranteeing the highest flight quality, ”said Jean Loïc Galle, CEO of Thales Alenia Space.
A total of 81 Iridium satellites are being built, of which 75 have been successfully launched. Nine of the launched satellites will serve as spares in orbit, and the remaining six will be ground.