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Fifth Iridium NEXT launch date announced

Iridium has announced that its fifth Iridium NEXT launch has been given a targeted date of March 18, 2018, by SpaceX. Like all previous launches in the programme it will take place at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}Iridium-5 will deliver 10 more Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit, which will bring the total number of new satellites deployed to 50 should the mission be successful.

This launch will use the same Falcon 9 first stage as the Iridium-3 launch that took place in October 2017, and aims to kick-start a 2018 schedule of four launches that should see all satellites in orbit by the middle of the year.

“We are entering the home stretch,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer, Iridium.

“This is going to be a monumental year for us as we complete our constellation refresh. In addition to four launches, we will continue the testing and validation processes for our new specialty broadband service, Iridium Certus, and look forward to its commercial launch later this year. We consider 2017 to be a great success and anticipate this year to be even better.”

The Iridium network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each containing 11 operational crosslinked satellites, for a total of 66 satellites in the active constellation. The Iridium-5 launch will deliver the new satellites to orbital plane 1, where all 10 will go directly into service after testing and validation.{/mprestriction}

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