Iridium Communications announced Aireon, a new company which will eventually allow air traffic management agencies anywhere on earth the ability to track aircraft anywhere else on the planet using ADS-B equipment that will be attached Iridium Next, to a new 66-satellite network scheduled to begin launching in 2015. Iridium Next is the updated replacement hardware for Iridium’s current satellite network.
Now that Iridium has successfully completed the financing for its next-generation satellite constellation, called Iridium Next, the McLean, Va., firm is looking ahead to the fun part: building and launching an all-new network of dozens of cross-linked communications satellites.
Earlier this month Iridium reached a preliminary agreement for $1.8 billion to finance its Next constellation of advanced low orbit communications satellites, slated for launch beginning in 2015. A syndicate of nine international banks is providing the financing.
Iridium Communications of McLean, Va., last month placed a multibillion-dollar order with Thales Alenia Space of France for 81 communications satellites needed to upgrade its global satellite communications network. The $2.1 billion deal includes 66 low-earth-orbit satellites for the Iridium Next constellation, with the remainder to serve as spares.
Iridium Communications of McLean, Va., has ordered 81 satellites from Thales Alenia Space of France to upgrade its global satellite network. The $2.1 billion deal includes 66 low-earth-orbit satellites for the operational constellation, with the rest to serve as spares. The first satellite launch is scheduled for the first quarter of 2015.
Iridium said it has begun taking steps to replace a lost communication satellite with one of eight in-orbit spares. The collision of a 2,000-pound decommissioned Russian satellite with the smaller Iridium craft on February 10 created a swirling field of debris but left only a tiny gap in Iridium’s 66-satellite constellation, resulting in brief outages for some customers.
It’s a success story borne of utter failure. Iridium, after the bankruptcy of the original company (which meant a write-off by parent Motorola of the $5 billion it cost to field a 66-satellite low-earth-orbit constellation), said it expects to post a small profit this year on the strength of its commercial services.
Iridium last month said it has reached agreements with three companies to develop the company’s next-generation satellite constellation, called Iridium Next. Lockheed Martin, Space Systems Loral and Thales Alenia Space will develop design concepts, review critical engineering and evaluate performance and capabilities. Iridium said it will select two additional partners for detailed system development.
Iridium Satellite LLC, the company that has emerged from the bankruptcy of the Motorola-led satellite communications consortium, last month submitted a proposal to the FAA outlining its idea for continuous, real-time broadcast of cockpit voice and flight data through its constellation of 66 low-earth-orbit satellites.
Iridium Satellite of Bethesda, Md., has added four North American air-ambulance operators to its subscriber rolls.
Air Methods has decided to install Sky Connect Tracker systems for Iridium-based automatic flight following as well as cockpit voice and data communications in its aircraft.
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