With the continuing strains on the U.S. national budget and the possibility that the Administration’s sequestration program could last for several more years, Pentagon planners are said to be worrying that the costs of the future GPS III system could become out of reach, despite its major advances and the need to have modernized replacement satellites ready to be deployed as the orbital lives of current satellites end.
Honeywell’s latest iteration of its Iridium satellite-based communication and aircraft tracking product, Sky Connect Tracker III, has been joined with its Zing health and usage monitoring system (HUMS) to create an integrated system that can now also send alerts of potential maintenance problems back to base. The communication part of Sky Connect Tracker III provides concurrent voice and text, along with flight tracking. The system uses the Iridium satellite network, meaning it works where Iridium is available, which is anywhere in the world.
At the NBAA Convention last month, Greenwich AeroGroup of Wichita offered live demonstrations of the Iridium OpenPort Aero, described as “the only aviation broadband solution that works everywhere in the world, including remote, oceanic and polar regions,” using Iridium’s worldwide 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.
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.
Inmarsat last month began repositioning its I-4 satellite constellation in an effort aimed at providing full global SwiftBroadband coverage and improving network performance. Moving the three I-4 satellites into new orbital slots 24,000 miles in space is a complicated task, but officials say the result will be worth the effort.
AirCell is introducing two new airborne telecommunications products, the AST 3500, which combines cellular technology with the Iridium satcom system, and the ST 3100, which relies exclusively on Iridium. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in November.
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.
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