SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Deploys 3rd Iridium NEXT Satellite Batch to Space; Match Desch Comments

Matt Desch

Iridium Communications launched its third batch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into space aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket that took off Monday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The launch brings to 30 the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in space and represents the third of eight launches that SpaceX needs to perform to deliver a total of 75 satellites into low-Earth orbit, Iridium said Monday.

“One of our core strategies is to offer new services that are either flat out impossible or not easily replicated by more traditional ‘bent pipe’ and geostationary systems,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch, an inductee into Executive Mosaic’s Wash100 for 2017.

Desch added the company is on schedule to complete in 2018 its Iridium NEXT satellite network designed to provide global services such as push-to-talk, Short Burst Data and Satellite Time & Location offerings.

The new satellite constellation will feature Aireon’s automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast platform designed to provide aircraft surveillance and tracking service; ship tracking service from exactEarth and Harris; and the Iridium Certus communications offering built to provide L-band broadband connectivity.

Earlier this month, Iridium also initiated on-orbit tests of Certus with plans to commercially launch the service by the second quarter of 2018.

The launch came months after Falcon 9 fielded the second batch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites in June to join the initial set of 10 satellites that lifted off aboard the SpaceX rocket in January.

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