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Iridium completes penultimate NEXT launch

Iridium has completed the seventh successful launch in its Iridium NEXT satellite programme, with only one further launch remaining to complete the full constellation.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}This latest 10-satellite launch was completed on July 25 using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, similar to each of the previous launches in the series. The satellites were delivered to orbital plane number five, where they will go in to operation immediately following testing and validation.

The Iridium network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each containing 11 crosslinked satellites for a total of 66 in the operational constellation. Upon activation of all 10 new satellites, orbital plane five will become the fourth Iridium orbital plane to be comprised exclusively of Iridium NEXT satellites.

In total, 81 satellites are being built with 75 planned for launch. Nine of the satellites launched will serve as on-orbit spares, and the remaining six will be ground spares.

The NEXT network will power Iridium’s forthcoming Certus service, offering L-band connectivity to the maritime sector using antennas developed by Iridium partners Thales and Cobham SATCOM.

“This historic constellation refresh is one launch away from completion,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer 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.”{/mprestriction}

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