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Airborne Unlimited-HOLIDAY

Sun, Sep 11, 2022

SpaceX to Launch Iridium Satellites

Communications Satellite Constellation Reinforces Network with 5 Additional Satellites

The mystery launch provider for Iridium's next satellite launches has been revealed, with an agreement for SpaceX to take 5 of the company's 2nd-generation satellites aboard its Falcon 9. 

The Satellites will go to join the rest of the next-gen communications network that the company began launching in 2017. The mission, Iridium-9, will take place at Vandenberg Space Force Base in the middle of 2023 as they deploy 5 of the company's 6 spare satellites for added network redundancy. 

Since completing the rollout of the 2nd generation Iridium network, they have maintained 66 operational satellites, 9 spares in orbit, and 6 spares stored on Earth. That status quo is fairly expensive, given the costly nature of terrestrial satellite storage. Iridium's growth has seen more than 730,000 new subscribers since 2019, with more than 1.8 million total around the world.

Along with the growth, they've been able to expand their services with the Iridium Certus broadband platform, Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, and Global Line of Sight service for autonomous systems worldwide. That's only the start, given the plethora of company partners that bring more than 150 Iridium narrowband and specialty networking products to market using the network. 

"We have always said that when the right opportunity presented itself, we would launch many, if not all, of our remaining ground spares, and just such an opportunity came about," said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. "Our constellation is incredibly healthy; however, the spare satellites have no utility to us on the ground. We built extra satellites as an insurance policy, and with SpaceX's stellar track record, we look forward to another successful launch, which will position us even better to replicate the longevity of our first constellation."



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