Home Space Iridium launches 10 satellites into low-earth space orbit

Iridium launches 10 satellites into low-earth space orbit

US-based satellite company Iridium has successfully launched a payload of 10 satellites into low-Earth orbit an hour after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Iridum says with the second launch of its next-generation network, Iridium NEXT, there are now 20 satellites in orbit, establishing the infrastructure for ground-breaking technologies such as Iridium Certus and Aireon’s space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) aircraft tracking and surveillance service.

According to Iridium, Certus is poised to disrupt industry norms by enabling truly global L-band satellite broadband speeds through smaller, more cost-effective antennas.

Matt Desch, chief executive, Iridium, says since the successful 14 January launch, Iridium NEXT satellites have already been integrated into the operational constellation and are providing service.

He says the first eight operational Iridium NEXT satellites are already providing superior call quality and faster data speeds with increased capacity to Iridium customers, and the two additional satellites from the first launch are continuing to drift to their operational orbital plane, where they will begin providing service.

“Iridium NEXT satellites from today’s launch will be tested and integrated into the constellation over the coming weeks.”

“Right now, it’s two down with six more launches to go,” says Desch.

“Our operations team is eagerly awaiting this new batch of satellites and is ready to begin the testing and validation process. After several weeks of fine-tuning, the next set of ‘slot swaps’ will begin, bringing more Iridium NEXT satellites into operational service, and bringing us closer to an exciting new era for our network, company, and partners.”

Through a series of eight launches, SpaceX will deliver 75 Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth orbit, with 66 making up the operational constellation.  In total, 81 new satellites are being built, with nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).