SpaceX, the Californian company charged with delivering the majority of NEXT satellites into their Low Earth Orbit, has completed its dispenser testing, the company reports. The dispenser is the assembly that holds the satellites during launch and manages their separation from the rocket. The tests that were performed, including separation and shock testing, aimed at ensuring its structural integrity and durability for the launch proper.
SpaceX will launch 70 satellites for the Iridium NEXT constellation over a planned period of two years beginning in 2015. For each launch, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry 10 satellites.
"The launch of the satellites for Iridium NEXT is fairly complicated, given the sheer number of satellites that need to be placed into orbit," said Scott Smith, chief operating officer at Iridium.
"The dispenser passed its system level qualification tests with flying colours, and we're now moving forward with launch preparations."