Iridium Sets Target Date for Second Iridium NEXT Launch

Posted by Michelle Howard

Iridium Communications has announced it has received
a targeted launch date of mid-June for the second mission of ten
Iridium NEXT satellites.

Originally anticipated for mid-April of 2017, the date has
shifted due to a backlog in SpaceX's launch manifest as a result
of last year's September 1st anomaly. This second launch will
deliver another ten Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth-orbit
(LEO) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is targeting six
subsequent Iridium NEXT launches approximately every two months
thereafter.

This announcement comes as Iridium has successfully connected the
first Iridium NEXT satellite via its crosslinks into its global
LEO constellation. The new satellite is expected to begin
providing service to Iridium customers in the coming days. This
marks a major milestone for the Iridium NEXT program as the
testing and validation phase is ahead of schedule and the
satellites are working well.

The upcoming mid-June launch will mark the second mission of
eight Iridium NEXT launches with SpaceX, including the recently
announced satellite rideshare with NASA and GFZ's Gravity
Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-on mission (GRACE-FO). In
total, Iridium currently has plans to launch 75 Iridium NEXT
satellites - 66 to serve as operational satellites and nine as
on-orbit spares.

Feb 15, 2017

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