14 June 2017 – Following the launch of the first ten Iridium NEXT satellites in January 2017, their commissioning has proceeded very smoothly, as they passed all in-orbit tests with flying colors.
These satellites are now interconnected, and are operating in full compatibility with the initial Block One constellation.
Having passed this milestone, the second batch of ten satellites is now ready for launch on June 25 by SpaceX from the Vandenberg Air Force base in California.
“The challenge for Thales Alenia Space was not just to deliver the satellites, but above all to commission the entire turnkey system and make sure that the two generations of satellites were fully compatible,” said Bertrand Maureau, Executive Vice President, Telecommunication at Thales Alenia Space. “Our success in this operation clearly confirms our skills and expertise as a leading prime contractor for complex telecommunications systems.”
The Iridium NEXT constellation offers global connectivity thanks to 66 interconnected satellites at an altitude of 780 km, along with nine spares in parking orbit and six more spare satellites on the ground. Totally independent from other any ground network, this international system provides unrivaled capability for communications on the move (individuals, land vehicles, aircraft, ships), and ensures full global coverage, including the oceans.