Fourth set of Iridium NEXT satellites arrive in orbit and provide telemetry
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (SPX) Dec 29, 2017
Iridium Communications reports that the fourth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, launched last Friday by SpaceX, are functioning nominally and have begun the testing and validation process. Not only did this fourth launch mark the midway point of the Iridium NEXT launch campaign, it is also the first Iridium NEXT launch to use a flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket.
"Since Friday's deployment, the team has only positive news to report," said Scott Smith, chief operating officer at Iridium.
"Similar to the first three launches, our team at the Satellite Network Operations Center immediately began running initial diagnostics as soon as the newly deployed satellites were captured by our network, just minutes after they were deployed.
"This testing process has been running smoothly and will continue for several weeks, after which nine of the new satellites will begin their individual ascents to an operational orbit, replacing original vehicles. We'll also be sending the tenth satellite to an adjacent orbital plane where it will go into service by Summer 2018."
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.
This unique architecture creates a web of coverage around the earth, enabling Iridium to provide real-time communications over the oceans and from even the most remote locations.
Four additional Iridium NEXT launches are scheduled for the first half of 2018, bringing Iridium's total to 75 new satellites in orbit, including nine spares.
Los Angeles (AFP) Dec 23, 2017
SpaceX on Friday blasted off a re-used Falcon 9 rocket carrying 10 satellites into orbit, its fourth launch toward a $3 billion upgrade to Virginia-based Iridium's mobile, voice and data network. The rocket, part of which had flown on a previous Iridium launch in June, lit up the night sky as it launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 5:27 pm (0127 GMT Saturday), just after sunset. Fr ... read more
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