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Successful launch brings Iridium NEXT total to 50 satellites

Iridium is closing in on completion of its second generation NEXT satellite network, with the successful fifth launch of another 10 satellites confirmed on March 30 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, carried out by SpaceX using its Falcon 9 rocket.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}All 10 newly launched satellites were successfully delivered to orbital plane one and have begun communication with the Satellite Network Operations Center, Iridium says. The spacecraft will now undergo testing as they begin to replace existing first generation satellites over the next 30 days. 

The launch took place shortly after Iridium confirmed that it had added the one millionth active subscriber to its network, a welcome boost for the company as it prepares for the roll-out of an improved range of services on its next generation satellites later this year.

“It’s a unique coincidence that we passed the one million subscribers mark right at this launch, and it’s particularly exciting because we’ve surpassed this milestone earlier than we had anticipated,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer at Iridium.

“The new satellites and services we’re launching and continued strong subscriber growth are cementing our position as an industry leader and critical global communications platform and underscore the significant transformation we’ve undergone as a company over the last 10 years.”

“This truly is a testament to the trust our partners and customers have in our network, which is only going to continue growing as the deployment of the Iridium NEXT constellation nears completion.”

To date, Iridium has completed five launches of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites, all with SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base. A total of eight Iridium NEXT launches are currently planned, with SpaceX to deliver a total of 75 new satellites to orbit.

In total, 81 satellites are being built as part of the $3 billion project, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.{/mprestriction}

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