Home Space Iridium NEXT satellites begin testing

Satellite communications company Iridium says that that the five Iridium NEXT satellites launched on Tuesday by SpaceX are functioning nominally and have begun the testing and validation process.

The launch brought the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit to 55, leaving just two more launches of 10 satellites each remaining for the Iridium NEXT program.

“The team at Iridium’s Satellite Network Operations Center (SNOC) has only positive news to share since Tuesday’s launch,” said Scott Smith, chief operating officer at Iridium.

“Three of the satellites from this launch will be going directly into service in our sixth orbital plane, where the other two will serve as spares. Once testing is completed in a few weeks, and they are put into service, three of the six Iridium orbital planes, 2, 4 and 6, will be comprised of Iridium NEXT satellites.  

“This is another tremendous milestone on the horizon as we move ever closer to completing this historic tech refresh.”

The Iridium constellation is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each containing 11 operational crosslinked satellites, for a total of 66 satellites in the active constellation.

Iridium says the “unique architecture” creates a web of coverage around the earth, enabling it to provide real-time communications over the oceans and from even the most remote locations.  

Two more Iridium NEXT launches are scheduled for 2018, to bring Iridium’s total to 75 new satellites in orbit, including nine spares. A total of 81 satellites are being built, including 66 operational, nine on-orbit spares and six 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).

 

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