Tuesday, 03 April 2018 12:09

Iridium launches latest NEXT satellite

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Satellite communications provider Iridium has successfully launched the fifth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit on a SpaceX rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

All 10 new satellites have now successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operations Center and are preparing to begin testing. 

Shortly before launch, the Iridium network met a major milestone as it surpassed a million active subscribers, which the company says continues a trend of significant growth and serves as a testament to the “reliable, resilient and uncompromising nature of the Iridium network”.

Matt Desch, chief executive at Iridium, says paving the way for Iridium’s growth is the Internet of Things where Iridium has established itself as “the satellite network of choice to keep ‘things’ connected beyond the limits of cellular coverage”.

According to Iridium, more than half of the subscribers on its are IoT devices, delivering a wide variety of solutions by hundreds of licensed technology partners.

Iridium says these devices are designed to do everything from tracking endangered species and monitoring power lines to controlling shipping container temperature levels or serving as tsunami warning systems.

Desch says further positioning the company for success is the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, which is now well more than halfway completed. Once fully deployed later in 2018, the constellation will blanket the earth with its new capabilities like the Iridium Certus L-band broadband service and Aireon global aircraft surveillance and tracking.

“It’s a unique coincidence that we passed the one million subscribers mark right at this launch, and it’s particularly exciting because we’ve surpassed this milestone earlier than we had anticipated,” said Desch.

“The new satellites and services we’re launching and continued strong subscriber growth are cementing our position as an industry leader and critical global communications platform and underscore the significant transformation we’ve undergone as a company over the last 10 years.”

”This truly is a testament to the trust our partners and customers have in our network, which is only going to continue growing as the deployment of the Iridium NEXT constellation nears completion.”

To date, Iridium has completed five launches of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, all with SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Eight Iridium NEXT launches are planned, with SpaceX delivering a total of 75 new satellites to orbit.

In total, 81 satellites are being built, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.


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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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