Photo: SpaceX/Twitter

SpaceX launches first 10 of 70 Iridium NEXT satellites into space

Bradley Wint
By - Founder/Executive Editor
Jan 14, 2017 3:14pm AST
Photo: SpaceX/Twitter
Get the latest news stories of the day delivered to your inbox

After a perfect launch and secondary booster recovery mission, SpaceX has gone on to deliver the first 10 of at 70 new Iridium NEXT satellites into Low Earth Orbit.

The Iridium NEXT satellites are set to replace its aging first generation network as communication demands have vastly increased over the past 20 years.

Over the next year, Iridium plans to launch 66 working satellites split across 6 equidistant planes across the globe running from pole to pole. There will be 6 additional satellites in each plane acting as spares should there be a malfunction with one of the functional satellites. Additionally Iridium will keep 9 extra units on Earth as spares, and will launch them individually should the need arise for them.

Iridium NEXT satellites are capable of high speed voice, data, and text transmissions services, as well as asset tracking for the aviation, maritime, government, business, and even personal sectors.

Each unit can transmit data on the L-band which is capable of speeds of up to 1.5 Mbps. The L-band is less susceptible to changes in the weather, providing for a more reliable transmissions to and from Earth.

Even though each unit can also transmit on the Ka-band at much higher speeds of about 8 Mbps, it will be used only for communication between ground-based gateways and adjacent NEXT satellites. Communications between the satellites and customers will be kept on the L-band.

Like the current first gen satellites, each NEXT satellite can communicate with 4 satellites around it, those being the two in frond and behind it within the same plane, and with the 2 adjacent units in planes next to each other. As a result, data can be relayed to and from ground stations or directly to customers’ devices across multiple satellites.

Artist rendition of an IRIDIUM NEXT satellite.

Each satellite also features an additional 50 kg secondary sensor developed by Aireon LLC, to provide Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADB-S) tracking services for continuous space-based monitoring and control of aircraft across the globe, even over oceans and remote regions where it is not currently possible.

Once this service goes live, air traffic controllers should have much better coverage of their respective airspace, and data accuracy on sites like FlightRadar24 and FlightAware should also increase.

As a result of all this, Iridium’s first generation satellites will slowly be decommissioned into a graveyard orbit, and as mentioned in my previous post, we most likely won’t see anymore Iridium flares due to the more efficient design of these newer NEXT satellites.

Have your say
Read more

Don’t waste your time trying to be a full time YouTuber. 96% make less than 12k a year

Social Media - With internet stars like PewDiePie, Logan Paul, Casey Neistat, and Mo Vlogs making a decent living from YouTube, more and…

By - Mar 11, 2018 8:04pm AST

Lab-grown meat could be on our dinner menus by the end of 2018

Featured - Lab-grown meat could eventually make its way to our restaurant tables and grocery stores sooner than we think. Lab-grown meat…

By - Mar 4, 2018 11:42pm AST

iPhone X beats Samsung Galaxy S9 in most benchmark tests

Mobile - With the announcement of the new Galaxy S9 and S9+, PhoneArena was able to run a few benchmarks to see…

By - Mar 1, 2018 11:45pm AST

California to allow driverless cars without a driver behind the wheel

Transportation - It’s official. The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced that it has amended the “Testing of Autonomous Vehicles” Act…

By - Mar 1, 2018 5:46am AST

Apple set to release three new iPhones this year, one for every budget

Mobile - Even though the iPhone X notch seems to be the butt of every mobile phone joke, there’s no doubt that…

By - Feb 27, 2018 12:08am AST

Samsung unveils Galaxy S9 and S9+

Featured - The day is finally here. At this point it’s safe to say we knew at least 90% of what to…

By - Feb 25, 2018 2:20pm AST

Xbox One keyboard and mouse support will remain; up to game devs to implement it

Gaming - Microsoft Xbox’s division currently does not offer out-of-the-box support for keyboard and mouse devices for its Xbox One units, but…

By - Feb 21, 2018 11:22pm AST

Samsung unveils world’s largest SSD drive with 30TB in just 2.5-inch storage device

Hardware - Samsung has announced the world’s largest production SSD drive to date with a storage capacity of 30.72 terabytes jammed into…

By - Feb 20, 2018 11:57pm AST

FBI director advises against using Huawei and ZTE phones

Featured - FBI director Christopher Wray announced earlier this week that he is “deeply concerned” about the threat that two Chinese mobile…

By - Feb 19, 2018 12:03am AST

Why did Florida school shooting Google Search results pre-date incident?

Web - On February 14, 2018, 14 students and 3 staff members were killed by Nikolas Cruz at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High…

By - Feb 18, 2018 2:24am AST