Thursday, 26 July 2018 11:28

Iridium nears completion of NEXT satellite network


Satellite operator Iridium has successfully launched 10 of its NEXT satellites to low earth orbit (LEO) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The launch, on Tuesday, was the seventh of eight launches planned for the Iridium NEXT constellation, replacing the company’s existing 66 satellite network.

Iririum says only one more launch of 10 satellites remains until the Iridium NEXT network is completed, “ushering in a new era of capabilities” like its Certus broadband service and Aireon real-time aircraft surveillance system.

Completion of the NEXT will spark what Iridium says is both a technological and financial transformation for the company, while providing its partner ecosystem with an “unrivaled industry platform” for innovation.  

Iridium claims its Certus service will provide the fastest L-band broadband service globally, turbocharging Iridium satellite connectivity using smaller and more cost-effective terminals.

Five companies have been selected by Iridium as value-added manufacturers for Certus, including Thales, Cobham, Rockwell Collins, L3 Communications and, most recently, Gogo.

And Iridium says this group of companies has been joined by more than 20 Certus service providers for maritime, aviation, Internet of Things, land-mobile and government-related industries.

“This historic constellation refresh is one launch away from completion,” said Matt Desch, chief executive at Iridium.

“We know our partners are just as excited about the new network being finished as we are, and how that will bring the full power of the Iridium NEXT constellation to life. We’ve come a long way, and we are particularly excited to see the financial transformation enabled by the completion of the Iridium NEXT system and the associated drop in capital expenditures.”

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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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