Iridium Sets Sept. 30 Launch Date for 3rd ‘NEXT’ Satellite Batch

Iridium Communications plans to launch the third batch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites on Sept. 30 aboard a SpaceX-built Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The scheduled launch would bring the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in space to 30 as part of a potential $3 billion program to replace an existing constellation with 75 new communications satellites by mid-2018, Iridium said Friday.

The announcement came a month after Falcon 9 launched the second batch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites to join the initial set of satellites that took off in January.

Iridium also set Oct. 1 as a backup launch date for this batch of 10 satellites that will work to deliver service in orbital plane four.

SpaceX also plans to carry out the fourth satellite launch in late November.

The new satellite constellation will feature Aireon’s automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast platform designed to provide aircraft surveillance and tracking service as well as the Iridium Certus communications platform.

Thales Alenia Space manufactures Iridium NEXT satellites, while its subcontractor Orbital ATK performs assembly work on the satellites through its Gilbert, Arizona-based facility.

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