Iridium Communications has announced a key milestone in its long-term constellation resilience and redundancy planning, with the successful launch and deployment of five spare satellites.

This launch brings the total number of spare Iridium® satellites on orbit to 14. In total, 81 next-generation Iridium satellites were built, and 80 of them have now been deployed.

The Iridium constellation remains unique in the industry, featuring 66 operational crosslinked satellites, enabling truly global, weather-resilient connectivity everywhere on Earth.

The satellites lifted off at 06:16 am PDT (13:16 UTC) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base (VSFB) in California. Shortly after deployment, each of the satellites successfully contacted engineers at Iridium’s Satellite Network Operations Center (SNOC), in Virginia.

Major milestone in the history of Iridium

“The completion of our upgraded constellation was a major milestone in the history of Iridium. We committed to our partners and our customers that they could depend on us and expect the highest quality of service and reliability anywhere on the planet, and that’s what we’ve delivered,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium.

“With all the new products and services enabled by our network, the launch of these spares shows our commitment to maintaining the gold standard of satellite network services.”

Completed in February 2019, the upgraded Iridium constellation has proven to be an engine of innovation for the company and its partners. Recently, the company took a lead role in the burgeoning satellite direct-to-device movement, teaming up with Qualcomm Technologies Inc., to enable satellite SOS and two-way messaging in premium Android smartphones.

The Iridium Certus service, launched in 2019, established a new standard for weather-resilient broadband connectivity with services and equipment that scale in size, weight and power requirements based on the needs of the end-user. It has proven to be ideal for ships, vehicles, aircraft, and particularly UAVs, USVs and other uncrewed autonomous systems.

Image: Iridium
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