Follow the 8 Launch Missions
Iridium is replacing its existing constellation by sending 75 Iridium NEXT satellites into space on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket over 8 different launches.
Update – April 9, 2018
Iridium Communications Inc. announced today that the Iridium-6/GRACE-FO rideshare mission, the sixth Iridium® NEXT launch overall, has been targeted for launch by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California for May 19, 2018 at approximately 1:03 PM PDT (20:03 UTC). The second of four Iridium launches planned for 2018, this mission will deliver five Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit, alongside the twin satellites for the NASA/German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Iridium NEXT Planned to be Fully Deployed
With 8 launches scheduled to happen over the next few years, Iridium NEXT will soon become a reality. It will also enable Iridium’s next-generation global satellite broadband data and voice service, Iridium CertusSM.
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
- 9 in-orbit spares and 6 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 allows 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.