HAWTHORNE, Calif. — Iridium Communications announced that its sixth batch of five Iridium Next satellites are in processing at SpaceX’s west coast launch site, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This launch will increase the total number of Iridium Next satellites in space to 55.
Iridium Certus is the new service platform powered by the Iridium NEXT constellation.
“With better coverage than any other mobile wireless network and a wide range of available speeds, it will deliver global, reliable, enterprise-grade services while redefining the capabilities of mobile satellite communications,” according to Iridium. The service will offer speeds between 22 kbps up to 1.4 Mbps once fully deployed, offering everything from low-bandwidth data applications and email to full internet and HD video.
The Iridium constellation now comprises a total of 66 satellites divided into six polar orbiting planes with 11 satellites in each plane. All five satellites from the next launch will be deployed to orbital plane six. To date, five Iridium Next launches carrying 10 satellites each have been completed, and over half of the Iridium Next constellation were activated.
Iridium contracted with SpaceX to deliver 75 Iridium Next satellites to orbit, 66 operational and nine on-orbit spares, through a series of eight launches, according to Telecompaper.com.
The next launch, the third Iridium launch to use a “flight-proven” SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, is scheduled for May 19 at 1:04:24 pm PDT (20:04:24 UTC).