Iridium Communications is set to produce antennas for the NEXT constellation in large volumes following completion of the first five flight main mission antennas.
Thales Alenia Space built the antennas to handle the transmission of data between Iridium customer devices, Iridium Communications said Monday.
“The main mission antennas are a critical component of each satellite, and meeting this milestone is a huge step forward for the constellation build,” said Scott Smith, chief operating officer of Iridium.
Thales will develop 81 NEXT antennas, with each assembly comprising an antenna control unit, a beamforming network and 168 transmit and receive modules.
“As we move forward with the build, we will now begin extensive testing of each MMA to ensure reliability,“ said Denis Allard, vice president of Iridium NEXT project at Thales Alenia Space.
The 66-satellite NEXT constellation is scheduled for launch in 2015 and full operation in 2017.