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4th January 2017

First Iridium NEXT Satellite Launch Scheduled for 2017

This week Iridium made an exciting announcement regarding the date for the first launch of its next-generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT. 

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will take off on Sunday morning, January 8 at 10:28:07 PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, delivering 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into low-earth orbit. This launch marks a crucial step towards the realisation of Iridium's Next-Generation Global Satellite Constellation, which will replace the world's largest commercial satellite network of low-earth orbit satellites.

* With high winds and rain in the forecast at Vandenberg Air Force Base, the first launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites is now planned for January 14th at 9:54 a.m. PST, with a back-up date of January 15th.

In what will be one of the largest "tech upgrades" in history, Iridium has partnered with Thales Alenia Space for the manufacturing, assembly and testing of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites, at least 70 of which will be launched by SpaceX.  The process of replacing the satellites one-by-one in a constellation of this size and scale has never been completed before.

According to iridium, the launch is contingent upon the FAA's approval of SpaceX's return to flight following the anomaly that occurred earlier this year on 1st  September at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Matt Desch, CEO at Iridium, said:

"We're excited to launch the first batch of our new satellite constellation.  We have remained confident in SpaceX's ability as a launch partner throughout the Falcon 9 investigation. We are grateful for their transparency and hard work to plan for their return to flight.  We are looking forward to the inaugural launch of Iridium NEXT, and what will begin a new chapter in our history."

Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO of SpaceX, said:

"We are looking forward to return to flight with the first Iridium NEXT launch. Iridium has been a great partner for nearly a decade, and we appreciate their working with us to put their first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit."

SpaceX added:  "We are finalizing 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. 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."

Iridium NEXT will enable the development of new and innovative products and solutions across Iridium's vast partner ecosystem. Additionally, Iridium Certus, Iridium's next-generation multi-service communications platform enabled by Iridium NEXT, will deliver faster speeds and higher throughputs across multiple industry verticals. A service of this quality and value is unprecedented in the industry, and is poised to disrupt the current market status quo.  Currently, the service is set to be commercially available in 2017 and is undergoing testing on Iridium's existing network.

Iridium's primary launch campaign consists of seven SpaceX Falcon 9 launches, deploying ten Iridium NEXT satellites at a time. These 70 Iridium NEXT satellites are scheduled to be deployed by early 2018.

For more information please [email protected]

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Iridium NEXT Launch
We're excited to launch the first batch of our new satellite constellation. We have remained confident in SpaceX's ability as a launch partner throughout the Falcon 9 investigation."
Matt Desch, CEO at Iridium