Next-gen Iridium Satellites Might Carry ADS-B Payloads

 - September 27, 2011, 11:10 AM

Satellite communications provider Iridium is in discussions with other aerospace companies and air navigation service providers to equip its next generation of 66 low-Earth-orbit (LEO) satellites with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) payloads, making possible global surveillance of aircraft to include oceanic and polar regions. Iridium CEO Matthew Desch described the discussions last Thursday at a conference in Williamsburg, Va., sponsored by satcom equipment provider ICG. The plan “is to put a NextGen ADS-B receiver on every one of our satellites,” Desch said, referring to the FAA’s NextGen ATC system. Each payload “will use about 30 to 40 kilograms of space and we can basically provide real-time surveillance of every NextGen-equipped aircraft anywhere on the planet.” Desch said the plan complements deployment of ADS-B systems in domestic airspace and supports mandates in Europe to equip for ADS-B by 2015 and in the U.S. by 2020. Iridium’s second-generation satellites, scheduled to launch from 2015 to 2017, will maintain the existing architecture of 66 LEO spacecraft that provide global coverage for satellite voice and data communications.