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Second Iridium NEXT launch a success

The satellites were launched on a SpaceX rocket on June 25 The satellites were launched on a SpaceX rocket on June 25

Iridium has successfully completed the second satellite launch for its next-generation network, Iridium NEXT, with a payload of 10 satellites deployed into low-Earth orbit on June 25, adding to the 10 initial satellites in the constellation already launched in January of this year.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket used in the mission lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, US, at 1.25pm local time, with the satellites deployed approximately one hour later.

Since the first NEXT launch on January 14, the initial ten satellites have begun to be integrated into the current Iridium operational constellation to provide service improvements for existing customers.

The first eight operational satellites have been used to boost call quality, data speeds and capacity, with the two additional satellites continuing to drift to their operational orbital plane, from where they will begin providing service.

Iridium NEXT satellites from this most recent launch will be tested and integrated into the constellation over the coming weeks, the company said.

Just as with the first launch, on-orbit testing and validation will be completed by teams from Iridium and satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space. Five of the ten satellites from this launch will be sent to adjacent orbits to optimise the network deployment and ensure eleven operational satellites, and at least one in-orbit spare, are in each of Iridium’s six polar orbiting planes following full deployment.

“Right now, it’s two down with six more launches to go,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer, Iridium.

“Our operations team is eagerly awaiting this new batch of satellites and is ready to begin the testing and validation process. After several weeks of fine-tuning, the next set of ‘slot swaps’ will begin, bringing more Iridium NEXT satellites into operational service, and bringing us closer to an exciting new era for our network, company, and partners.”

Through a series of eight launches, SpaceX is scheduled to deliver 75 Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth orbit, with 66 making up the operational constellation. In total, 81 new satellites are being built, with nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.{/mprestriction}

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