Iridium Partners with SpaceX to Launch 5 Ground Spare Satellites on Falcon-9 Rocket

Iridium Partners with SpaceX to Launch 5 Ground Spare Satellites on Falcon-9 Rocket

Iridium Communications has announced that it has reached an agreement with SpaceX to launch up to five of the company's remaining ground spare satellites from the Iridium NEXT program, on its Falcon 9 rocket.  Known as Iridium-9, the launch is planned to take place at Vandenberg Space Force Base in mid-2023.  Earlier this year, Iridium celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first launch in Iridium's history, which also took place from Vandenberg on May 5, 1997. That first-ever launch also carried five Iridium satellites to orbit on a Delta II rocket.

Iridium-9 will be Iridium's second rideshare with SpaceX.  Previously, SpaceX conducted eight Iridium launches between January 2017 and January 2019.  These launches delivered 75 satellites to LEO as part of the Iridium NEXT campaign, replacing the company's original satellite constellation. Since the completion of the launch campaign in 2019, Iridium has 66 operational satellites, nine on-orbit spares, and six additional spares on the ground.  Up to five of those six ground spares are planned for launch as part of Iridium-9.  All satellites in the upgraded Iridium constellation were built by Thales Alenia Space and carry the Aireon hosted payload, which provides truly global, real-time surveillance of aircraft around the world.

"We have always said that when the right opportunity presented itself, we would launch many, if not all, of our remaining ground spares, and just such an opportunity came about," said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.  "Our constellation is incredibly healthy; however, the spare satellites have no utility to us on the ground.  We built extra satellites as an insurance policy, and with SpaceX's stellar track record, we look forward to another successful launch, which will position us even better to replicate the longevity of our first constellation."

Since the completion of the upgraded Iridium network in early 2019, Iridium's customer base grew by more than 730,000 subscribers in just three years and has more than 1.8 million today.  With that subscriber growth came several new Iridium products and services, including the Iridium Certus specialty broadband platform, Iridium's Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, Iridium Global Line of Sight service for uncrewed and autonomous systems, and over 150 new Iridium narrowband and specialty broadband products brought to market by our partner ecosystem.

Iridium remains the only commercial satellite constellation with truly global coverage, offering weather-resilient L-band service from pole to pole.  The constellation is divided into six polar orbiting planes that each include 11 operational crosslinked satellites.  The satellites from Iridium-9 will be launched into a parking orbit, and after initial testing will be drifted to their assigned spare orbits.

Click here to learn about Iridium Communications.

Publisher: SatNow
Tags:-  SatelliteLaunch

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GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations

beidou

Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019

galileo

Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017

glonass

Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018

gps

Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014

irnss

Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013