After two years of launching the new satellites from Thales Alenia Space, the Iridium NEXT constellation is finally operational. The latter does not require ground control and is supporting the Iridium CloudConnect service intended as an answer to the connected future.
Jan. 19 - The latest rocket launch of SpaceX makes the Iridium Next constellation operational
In its current provision since 1992, the telecommunication constellation Iridium had to be replaced to tackle the future IoT stakes. In this respect, the industrialist Iridium and TAS initiated a series of SpaceX launches for their new satellite. Sending 10 Iridium Next satellites in each Falcon 9 with 8 launches spread over two years required to make the constellation operational. The 780km high space fleet is composed of 81 satellites including 66 in service.
A fast paced production
To meet the launching deadlines, 5 satellites were produced each month from July 2017. The first two satellites designed in Toulouse provided a model to Northrop Grumman Corporation, a TAS’subcontractor in Arizona, in order to produce the remaining 79 satellites. EREMS developed and produced of the 81 electronic sets for SAFT batteries embedded in Iridium NEXT satellites. That is more than 2400 electronic modules produced in a two-year period.
A technological challenge
This constellation does not depend on a network on the earth’s surface. Each Iridium Satellite carries a system for routing telecommunication signals in orbit. It allows each satellite to locate itself thanks to the others and procedures exist in case of a breakdown to maintain the service. The constellation’s coverage enables the functioning of Iridium’s CloudConnect service said to ease data exchanges between connected devices and users. The quick evolution of these new types of satellite networks forecasts a more competitive future than ever for the space market.