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Iridium NEXT launch moved to new year

The launch date for Iridium’s first group of satellites in its NEXT constellation has been pushed back a month from its announced December 16 slot, and is now scheduled to take place in January, the company reports.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The launch, using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Vandenberg Air Force Base spaceport in California, has been rescheduled to allow time for the completion of the investigation into a problem experienced by the launch vehicle during unrelated operations earlier in 2016.

“We are finalising the investigation into our September 1 anomaly and are working to complete the final steps necessary to safely and reliably return to flight, now in early January with the launch of Iridium-1,” said SpaceX, in a statement.

“This allows for additional time to close-out vehicle preparations and complete extended testing to help ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance prior to launch.”

While an exact date for the launch has not been confirmed, Iridium expects it to be in the early part of the new year.

“Iridium supports SpaceX’s announcement today to extend the first Iridium NEXT launch date into early January, in order to help ensure a successful mission. We remain as confident as ever in their ability to safely deliver our satellites into low Earth orbit,” the company said.{/mprestriction}

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