Successful 3rd launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites
Cannes, France - Built by Thales Alenia Space
The third batch of Iridium NEXT satellites built by Thales Alenia Space (TAS) has been successfully launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After the commissioning of the first 20 satellites launched in January and June, thirteen of which are now interconnected and operating in full compatibility with the initial Block One Constellation, with seven being maneuvered to an adjacent plane, this new milestone allows to continue the Iridium NEXT adventure. TAS is prime-contractor for the program, in charge of engineering, integration, operations and in-orbit validation of the 81 satellites and the overall system. The first 20 satellites showed that Iridium NEXT is compatible with the existing system. The satellites are integrated in series by Thales Alenia Space’s subcontractor Orbital ATK, at its Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Arizona under the supervision of a dedicated local Thales Alenia Space team. Launch and Early Operations (LEOP) and In Orbit Tests are performed by Thales Alenia Space from the Iridium Control Center at Leesburg (Va). The Iridium NEXT constellation will offer global connectivity thanks to 66 interconnected satellites at an altitude of 780 km, along with nine spares in parking orbits and six more spare satellites on the ground. This international system provides capability for communications on the move (individuals, land vehicles, aircraft, ships), and ensures full global coverage, including the oceans.
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