Sixth Batch of Iridium NEXT Satellites Arrives at SpaceX Site in VAFB

Five Iridium NEXT satellites that are scheduled for launch on May 19 have arrived at SpaceX’s launch site in Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to go through pre-launch processing procedures.

Iridium Communications said Wednesday each satellite will be mated in the dispenser, fueled, stacked on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s payload adapter and encapsulated within the fairing.

The five Iridium NEXT spacecraft will share the rocket launch with twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On satellites, which are part of a joint effort between NASA and the German Research Centre for Geosciences.

The May 19 launch will increase the number of Iridium NEXT satellites in low-Earth orbit to 55 as part of a $3 billion initiative to replace Iridium’s original satellite constellation this year.

Iridium said more than half of the Iridium NEXT network has been activated.

Iridium NEXT is designed to enable different services such as the Iridium Certus capability and Aireon’s space-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast network.

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