The 10 satellites were delivered to the LEO using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and all of them successfully communicated with the Iridium Satellite Network Operations Center. This was the eighth and final launch of the Iridium launch campaign (which required an investment of approximately $ 3 billion) with SpaceX, which deployed 75 new satellites in less than two years.
Iridium says its satellite constellation is the pole-to-pole communications network across the globe. It consists of six polar orbit planes, each containing 11 reticulated satellites, totaling 66 in the operational constellation.
"There are few words to describe how it is to conclude a vision started many years ago when I joined the company and what it means for Iridium and our future," said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium. "Our thanks to SpaceX for helping bring this new generation of satellites into orbit, so perfectly that every time is beyond words. However, for Iridium, we are not yet at the finish line, as there is still some work to do to get these satellites up and running. When this is completed, our future will be in effect. I am incredibly proud of our team now. "
As of the announcement, 60 of the 66 satellites in operation were new, with the last six scheduled for activation in the coming weeks. Iridium NEXT satellites were designed by Thales Alenia Space, which acts as the main contractor for the system, and are being integrated by Thales subcontractor Northrop Grumman.
In total, 81 satellites are being built with 75 successful launches. Nine of the satellites launched will serve as spares in orbit, and the remaining six will be grounded parts.
The Aireon system is expected to provide location histories for any aircraft that uses the technology and be lost, thereby reducing the likelihood of flight of any flight, as occurred on Malaysia Airlines flight 370 in March 2014. The global system also will allow flights to use the same separation distances for areas over water where there is no radar coverage like the ones where it is present. Aireon argues that the aviation industry will also benefit from increased safety, more efficient flight paths, more accurate arrival and departure forecasts, faster emergency response times and reduced CO2 emissions.
"Aireon's ADS-B space network is exactly what the aviation industry needs," said Marion Blakey, a former administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who now serves on the Aireon Advisory Board. "During my time at the FAA, extensive work was done to promote ADS-B technology for global air traffic management efforts. Today's successful launch is not just a victory for Aireon but for the aviation industry as we are now one step closer to having a clear, accurate and complete picture of global airspace, including oceans and areas remote "