Iridium Next, a constellation of 75 satellites
In orbit 65 for communications
Success for the launch of another 10 new ones
The seventh batch of Iridium NEXT satellites built by Thales Alenia Space-TAS- (JV Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) has been successfully launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The success of this seventh launch for the program further solidifies the company’s reputation for expertise as prime-contractor for sophisticated satellite communications (SATCOM) systems.
TAS, the system prim- contractor for the program, is in charge of engineering, integration, and in-orbit validation of all 81 Iridium NEXT satellites, comprising 66 operational satellites, the remaining 15 satellites will serve as in-orbit and ground spares. The satellites are manufactured in a production line process by Thales Alenia Space’s subcontractor Northrop Grumman Corporation (formerly known as 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 Thales Alenia Space in coordination with Iridium, from Iridium’s Satellite Network Operation Center (SNOC) in Leesburg, Va.
Each satellite is equipped with star tracker sensors provided by Leonardo to guarantee attitude determination and control.
The 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’s network provides vital assistance under very challenging conditions, (isolated areas, during natural disasters or during conflicts). Its independence from local ground infrastructure delivers secure communications, including protection against intrusion and hacking.
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