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Tas: 55 communication satellites in orbit for the Iridium Next

Success for the launch of the sixth group

The sixth batch of Iridium NEXT satellites built by Thales Alenia Space (TAS) has been successfully launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The success of this sixth launch for the program further solidifies the company for expertise as prime contractor for sophisticated satellite communications (SATCOM) systems. 

TAS, the system prime-contractor for the program, is in charge of engineering, integration, and in-orbit validation of all 81 satellites. The satellites are manufactured in a 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 and Iridium team. Launch and Early Operations (LEOP) and In Orbit Tests are performed by the industry in coordination with Iridium, from Iridium’s Satellite Network Operation Center (SNOC) in 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 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, such as in 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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