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.
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.