“All of the satellites are going to be in place within probably about 30 days of our final launch,” he told reporters Monday in a conference call Monday.
Desch said the company has launched 50 Iridium NEXT satellites and 47 of those spacecraft are now in service. He noted that the two remaining batches of satellites will fly aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket configuration.
The company plans to launch on May 21 five Iridium NEXT satellites and two satellites as part of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission of NASA and the German Research Center for Geosciences aboard Falcon 9 with a reused first-stage booster.
Desch, a 2018 Wash100 recipient, noted that the company has begun the deorbiting process for 25 “Block 1” satellites and expects to begin offering Global Maritime Distress and Safety System services by early 2020 as part of the company’s efforts to enter aircraft tracking and maritime communications business areas.
Falcon 9 launched into orbit the fifth set of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites on March 30 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.