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Qualification dispenser testing complete on Iridium NEXT

The Iridium NEXT constellation will feature 66 in-orbit satellites The Iridium NEXT constellation will feature 66 in-orbit satellites

Iridium has announced that production is complete on the qualification dispenser for the Iridium NEXT constellation's initial launch, which will be conducted by ISC Kosmotras from the Yasny launch site in Russia using a Dnepr rocket, with qualification testing on-track for completion in June 2015.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}Dispensers are specially-developed assemblies that hold the satellites to the rocket during launch and then manage the timed separation of each satellite from the rocket once successfully in orbit.

Dispenser qualification includes static load testing, shock testing, separation testing, vibration testing and interface testing. Overall, the tests ensure the dispenser will withstand the launch shock environment and test separation dynamics, fundamental frequency and structural integrity.

"Completion of the dispenser confirms rocket readiness—another critical step toward the launch of our first satellites," said Scott Smith, chief operating officer, Iridium.

The Iridium NEXT satellite network will consist of 66 in-orbit satellites and a number of in-orbit spares. The constellation is scheduled to begin launching in 2015 with the first launch of two satellites to be conducted by ISC Kosmotras on the Dnepr rocket.

Seven subsequent launches of ten satellites each will be conducted by SpaceX on the Falcon 9 rocket, with the aim of completing the full network in late 2017.

The Iridium NEXT network will enable the recently announced Iridium Certus broadband service, which Iridium says will deliver data speeds eventually as high as 1.4 Mbps to a single user terminal.{/mprestriction}

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