SpaceX has successfully launched the Iridium-3 mission from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Iridium-3 carries the third set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to their targeted orbit as part of a series of launches that will put a total of 81 Iridium satellites into orbit, 75 of which will be launched by SpaceX.
Iridium NEXT will replace the world’s largest commercial satellite network of low-Earth orbit satellites in what will be one of the largest “technology upgrades” in history.
The process of replacing the satellites one-by-one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before.
Iridium NEXT is enabling the development of new products and services including Iridium CertusSM, the company’s next-generation communications platform that will deliver faster speeds and higher throughputs for aviation, maritime, Internet of Things, terrestrial and government services.
Among the new technologies hosted by Iridium NEXT is the AireonSM aircraft tracking and surveillance system. On completion, this system will provide air traffic control organisations and aircraft operators that purchase the service with 100% realtime, global visibility of ADS-B equipped aircraft.
Iridium’s primary launch campaign consists of eight SpaceX Falcon 9 launches deploying 75 Iridium NEXT satellites. These 75 Iridium NEXT satellites are scheduled to be deployed by mid-2018.
Iridium is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. The company partnered with Thales Alenia Space for the manufacture, assembly and testing of all 81 Iridium NEXT satellites.