Editor in chief:
CLARA MOSCHINI

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5th launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites

This satellite constellation offers global connectivity

The fifth batch of Iridium NEXT satellites built by Thales Alenia Space (TAS) has been successfully launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. TAS, the system prime-contractor for the program, is in charge of engineering, integration, and in-orbit validation of all 81 Iridium NEXT satellites, in addition to the definition and validation of the overall system. The satellites are manufactured in production line process by Thales Alenia Space’s subcontractor Orbital ATK, at its Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Gilbert, Ariz. under the supervision of a dedicated local TAS team. Launch and Early Operations (LEOP) and In Orbit Tests are performed by Thales Alenia Space from Iridium’s Satellite Network Operation Center (SNOC) in Leesburg, Va. The success of this fifth launch for the Iridium NEXT program further solidifies the company for expertise as prime-contractor for sophisticated satellite communications (SATCOM) systems. 

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 global network provides capabilities for communications on the move (individuals, land vehicles, aircraft and ships), and ensures fully global coverage, including the poles and over the ocean. Thanks to its global coverage and independent operation, not requiring any ground infrastructure, Iridium NEXT provides vital assistance under very challenging conditions (isolated areas, during natural disasters or conflicts). Its independence from local ground infrastructures delivers secure communications, including protection against intrusion and hacking.

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