Orbital ATK has transported the first two next-generation Iridium satellites to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as part of preparations for the scheduled liftoff on Sept. 19, Spaceflight Now reported Wednesday.
Stephen Clark writes the satellites were shipped via truck from an Orbital ATK-run manufacturing facility near Phoenix to Vandenberg, where eight additional message transmission satellites will arrive for launch onboard a SpaceX-built Falcon 9 rocket.
At Vandenberg Air Force Base, the satellites will undergo fueling, final functional tests and attachment to the spacecraft with their SpaceX-built dispenser, the report says.
Thales Alenia Space designed the satellites for Iridium’s NEXT constellation while Orbital ATK led the assembly.
Built to connect users through voice and data traffic, the satellites will take off from the Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg, according to the report.
“The Iridium NEXT program has been more than seven years in the making, and is one of the most complex satellite programs underway today,“ Iridium CEO Matt Desch was quoted as saying by Spaceflight Now.
Desch added another Falcon 9 liftoff with 10 additional Iridium satellites will occur in late December followed by five SpaceX launches in 2017 to complete the constellation, Clark reports.