Iridium NEXT Launch:

All 10 Satellites Successfully Deployed

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. Learn more about the missions and key players that are making this possible – and share in the excitement of this historic program.

Follow the 7 Launch Missions

Iridium is replacing its existing constellation by sending 70 Iridium NEXT satellites into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket over 7 different launches.

Update – January 14, 2017

At approximately 9:54:39 a.m. PST, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California with the first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites. Iridium has confirmed the satellites were successfully deployed.

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 Orbital ATK 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. The countdown to launch is on!

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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!

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2010

Financing for Program Closed

As a result of the expanding scope of the project, the total anticipated cost of Iridium NEXT — including development, manufacture and launch of the constellation — reached approximately $3B, making it one of the largest commercial space ventures in history.

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2012-1

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.

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2012-2

Lockheed Martin Software Critical Review

Teams from Iridium, Thales Alenia Space and Lockheed Martin rigorously reviewed the design of the application software, which will perform the primary role of supporting subscriber services to user terminals. It was confirmed to successfully meet all functional requirements.

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2013

Thales Alenia Space System Critical Review

The Critical Design Review of the satellite network system was completed under the direction of Thales Alenia Space, who is leading the design and construction of Iridium NEXT satellites. It marks the transition from network design to the fabrication and testing phase.

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2014-1

Iridium Upgrades Ground Stations

An extensive upgrade of the ground station infrastructure was done in advance of the launch of Iridium NEXT. This includes several major components, designed to provide seamless connectivity with the new satellites and backward compatibility with the current network.

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2014-2

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.

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2014-3

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).

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2017

Iridium Certus to be Commercially Available

Starting in Q2, Iridium’s next-generation global satellite broadband voice and data service will begin serving users and enterprises across all industry verticals, providing unparalleled quality, coverage, performance and value in a single, multi-service terminal.

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2018

Iridium NEXT Planned to be Fully Deployed

With 7 launch missions scheduled to happen over the next few years, Iridium NEXT will soon become a reality. From there, Iridium and its partners will be uniquely positioned to meet the growing demand for global mobile communications on land, at sea and in the sky.

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New Platform. New Possibilities.

Iridium Certus℠ is the new service platform powered by the Iridium NEXT constellation. With better coverage than any other mobile wireless network and a wide range of available speeds, it will deliver global, reliable, enterprise-grade services while redefining the...
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World Changing Connectivity

Can we truly count every vote?

In remote areas around the world, voters can’t vote when polling locations are too far away, or if they believe the counting process too flawed. Learn how the accessible, always-on connectivity from Iridium® makes it possible for democracy to thrive.

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Discover How the Network Works

Built from the ground up by a team of the world’s leading minds, the science and technology behind the launch and operation of the Iridium NEXT network is redefining state-of-the-art today while establishing new standards for the future

The Iridium Next Constellation

A complex design built to support satellite communications on a global scale. The network is made up of:

  • 66 Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites
  • 6 in-orbit spares and 9 ground spares
  • Back-up gateway and command & control facilities

One-of-a-kind Mesh Architecture

In space, each Iridium NEXT satellite will be cross-linked to 4 others — 2 in the same orbital plane and 1 in each adjacent plane — allowing the network to hand off traffic among satellites to deliver lower latency, avoid redundancy and ensure a continuous connection.

Why Low Earth Orbit 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.

48 Spot Beams Per Satellite

Spot beams project down from satellites to create a concentrated signal reception area. With Iridium NEXT, the size of each spot beam will be roughly 250 miles in diameter and each satellite’s full 48-beam footprint will be roughly 2,800 miles in diameter. This allow s for the spot beams to overlap and minimizes missed connections and dropped calls.

Travel Speed of Satellites

The low-flying Iridium NEXT satellites will travel at approximately 17,000 miles (27360 km) per hour in space, completing an orbit of the entire Earth in only about 100 minutes.

The Voyage of 1st Generation Satellites

Since launching in 1997, the satellites from Iridium’s current constellation have been on an amazing journey,continuing to travel through space and connect thousands of people and devices around the world.

  • 100,000 (approx.) orbits of the Earth
  • 4.7 km (2.9 trillion miles)
  • One half a light year

A Connection Anywhere on the Planet

With Iridium NEXT, users will be able to connect and communicate over the Earth’s entire surface —including outside of cellular networks and across oceans, airways and polar regions.

"La complejidad de la constelación #iridiumnext no tiene precedentes" J. Prat de #ThalesAleniaEspaña @Infoespacial https://t.co/afmdxDBiLi pic.twitter.com/c7NFwPNEig

About 2 hours ago

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