Follow the 8 Launch Missions

Iridium has replaced its existing constellation by sending 75 Iridium NEXT satellites into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket over 8 different launches.

Update – January 11th, 2019

On January 11th, 2019 at 07:31 am PST (15:31 UTC) a flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base and delivered the final 10 Iridium® NEXT satellites to low earth orbit (LEO).

Witness Space History in the Making

From Man’s first step on the Moon to the International Space Station, space expeditions have always captivated our imaginations. And while the technology has evolved over the years, what remains alive today is humanity’s bold desire to push the boundaries of where we can go and what we can do.

Iridium NEXT is an example of this drive to redefine what is possible. The launch of Iridium’s second generation global satellite constellation is one of the most significant commercial space ventures ever.

Partners

World satellite systems leader Thales Alenia Space serves as prime contractor for Iridium NEXT, and is tasked with the design and construction of the satellites for the new constellation.
Leading space technology company Northrop Grumman is responsible for the production of the Iridium NEXT satellites, including the assembly, integration, test and launch support phases
American aerospace manufacturer and space transporter SpaceX is the launch provider for Iridium NEXT, using the Falcon 9 to deploy the new satellites into low-Earth orbit.
Beyond the core partners, the Iridium NEXT program brings together the best and brightest minds in aerospace and telecommunications for a truly global collaborative effort.

Overview

Bringing Innovation to Life

Since first being formulated as a bold future vision, the Iridium NEXT program has achieved several key milestones in its comprehensive plan for funding, building and deploying Iridium’s next-generation global satellite constellation. Iridium NEXT is now becoming a reality!

2007

Plans for Iridium NEXT Announced

Since first being formulated as a bold future vision, the Iridium NEXT program has achieved several key milestones in its comprehensive plan for funding, building and deploying Iridium’s next-generation global satellite constellation. The countdown to launch is on!

2012

Aireon Hosted Payload Announced

Iridium secured one of the industry’s largest deals to date for the primary hosted payload space on Iridium NEXT with Aireon℠. The partnership with leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and investors from around the world is set to provide real time surveillance of all equipped aircrafts, on a global scale.

2014

First Call Over Iridium NEXT Hardware

The first successful end-to-end test call using Iridium NEXT hardware was completed on an Iridium satellite phone, simulating the connection to a satellite. This provided initial validation of the L-band hardware and processing software to be used in the new constellation.

2014

SpaceX Launch Mission Critical Review

The Iridium and SpaceX teams announced the successful completion of the launch mission critical review. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 will carry multiple Iridium NEXT satellites per vehicle, launching and deploying the satellites into a low-earth orbit (LEO).

2017

First Iridium NEXT Launch

On January 14, 2017, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenburg Air Force Base in California with the first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites.

2017

Iridium Launches with Flight-Proven Rockets

On December 22, 2017, Iridium became the first company in history to reuse one of its own flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets from a previous launch. The Iridium-4 launch utilized the same Falcon 9 rocket first stage that was used for the company’s second launch in June of 2017.

2019

Upgraded Iridium Constellation Fully Deployed

The Iridium NEXT launch mission was completed with an eighth and final launch with SpaceX on January 11, 2019 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. On February 5, 2019, the final two second-generation satellites were activated, moving 100% of Iridium services to the updated network.

Iridium Certus

Iridium CertusSM is the new advanced multi-service platform enabled by the upgraded Iridium constellation. Extending the reach of terrestrial and cellular infrastructure like never before, Iridium Certus redefines the capabilities of mobile satellite communications across maritime, IoT, aviation, land mobile, and government applications.

Iridium Certus

Iridium CertusSM is the new advanced multi-service platform enabled by the upgraded Iridium constellation. Extending the reach of terrestrial and cellular infrastructure like never before, Iridium Certus redefines the capabilities of mobile satellite communications across maritime, IoT, aviation, land mobile, and government applications.

Redefining Satellite Communications

Built from the ground up by a team of the world’s tops minds from leading technology companies around the world, the launch and operation of the upgraded Iridium network is establishing new standards for the future of satellite communications.

The Iridium Constellation

The upgraded Iridium constellation was designed to enhance the existing global support of the first-generation Iridium network. The network consists of:

  • 66 Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) second-generation satellites
  • 9 in-orbit spare second-generation satellites
  • 6 ground spare second-generation satellites
  • Upgraded Gateway and Command & Control ground facilities

One-of a Kind Mesh Architecture

In space, each Iridium satellite will be cross-linked to four others – two in the same orbital plane, and one in each adjacent plane. This architecture allows the network to “hand off” traffic among satellites to deliver connections at a lower latency and ensure a continuous connection.

Why Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) Satellites

At less than 780 km (476 miles) from the Earth, the low-flying LEO satellites allow shorter transmission paths, stronger signals, lower latency and shorter registration time than with Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites.

Forty-eight Spot Beams per Satellite

Spot beams project down from satellites to create a concentrated signal reception area. With the upgraded constellation and second-generation satellites, the size of each spot beam is now approximately 250 miles (400 km) in diameter, meaning each satellite’s full 48-beam footprint is approximately 2,800 miles (4,500 km) in diameter. This allows the spot beams to overlap and minimizes missed connections and dropped calls.

Travel Speed of Satellites

The Low-Earth Orbit Iridium satellites travel at approximately 17,000 miles (27,260 kilometers) per hour in space. At this rate, they complete an orbit of the entire Earth about once every 100 minutes.

The Voyage of Iridium Block 1 Satellites

The satellites from the first-generation Iridium constellation underwent an amazing journey over the course of their 20-year lives. The Block 1 satellites launched in 1997 and travelled through space to connect thousands of people and devices around the world.

  • Completed approximately 100,000 orbits of Earth
  • Traveled over 4.7 trillion kilometers (2.9 trillion miles) or half a light-year

As the Iridium NEXT mission replaced these satellites, they have been responsibly de-boosted and de-orbited.

A Connection Anywhere on the Planet

The Iridium constellation allows users to connect and communicate anywhere on the planet, including areas outside of terrestrial or cellular networks – across oceans, airways, and the poles! The second-generation Iridium satellites deployed through the Iridium NEXT mission enable Iridium CertusSM, a new multi-service platform.

@IridiumBoss Does all the #IridiumNEXT flight Satellites undergo thermo vacuum test or only the prototype Satellite?

About a year ago

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