Aireon has announced the launch and implementation of the successful eighth and final Iridium NEXT satellite constellation hosting Aireon-based automatic surveillance-broadcast space (ADS-B) loads. At 7:31:33 PM (15:31:33 UTC) a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California and placed the 10 Iridium NEXT satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO). This launch brought the total number of Aireon in-orbit loads to 75 (66 operational loads and 9 parts), completing the historic launch program and passing one of the last milestones before Aireon introduced a new era of global air traffic surveillance and tracking of aircraft.
Aireon is the world's first 100% global air traffic surveillance system and is revolutionizing the way the world travels with space technology. Unlike the existing aircraft surveillance and tracking infrastructure, the Aireon system utilizes space-based ADS-B technology that enables automatic, real-time collection of aircraft position data. Aireon technology gives air traffic controllers and airlines a complete and comprehensive view of the sky as never before. With this enhanced view of the world's flight routes, including those in remote and oceanic airspace, the entire industry will experience significant direct and indirect benefits, such as increased safety, more efficient flight paths, more accurate arrival and departure predictions, faster emergency response, reduced separation of aircraft, reduced CO2 emissions and more.
So far, the Aireon system has exceeded all forecasts and is processing more than 13 billion ADS-B messages per month, with the number expected to grow after full deployment. Air traffic controllers rely on the best and most accurate surveillance data possible to separate aircraft, which is often achieved through multiple redundant layers. Aireon data will provide air traffic controllers with a fully redundant data feed that covers the entire airspace, increasing the availability and reliability of a critical component in air traffic management, with a positive impact on safety and efficiency. This, in turn, will help improve flight optimization, eliminate gaps in fleet data reporting, and ultimately improve the overall safety, accuracy, and efficiency of air travel worldwide.
A total of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites were built, all with payload Aireon on board. There are now 75 satellites deployed, with nine serving as spares in orbit and the remaining six as spares. The recent launch marks the completion of the Iridium NEXT launch campaign, successfully deploying the entire Aireon system.