Final Iridium NEXT Satellite Batch Launches Aboard SpaceX Rocket; Matt Desch Quoted

Iridium Communications’ final and eighth batch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites launched Friday from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard SpaceX’s previously flown Falcon 9 rocket.

Iridium said Friday the satellites, which were fielded to orbital plane three, established communications with its satellite network operations facility after launch and are set to enter the first on-orbit testing phase.

The SpaceX rocket delivered to low-Earth orbit a total of 75 NEXT satellites to replace Iridium’s existing network of satellites.

Iridium CEO Matt Desch said he is proud of the Iridium team and that the company is grateful for SpaceX for helping deliver a new generation of satellites to orbit.

“However, for Iridium, we're not quite across the finish line yet, as there is still some work to do to put these satellites into operation. Once that's complete, our future will be in place,” Desch added.

The $3B NEXT satellite network will deliver the Iridium Certus L-band broadband service and the Aireon service for aircraft surveillance.

Thales Alenia Space and its subcontractor Northrop Grumman are building a total of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites, including nine on-orbit spares and six ground spares. 

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