Iridium Communications Inc. has announced that SpaceX has successfully launched five Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The Iridium satellites were joined by the twin spacecraft for the NASA/German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, in a unique “rideshare” launch on 22 May.
Shortly after deployment, Iridium confirmed successful communication with all five new satellites, formally bringing the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit to 55.
This leaves just two more launches of 10 satellites each to complete this ambitious launch program. The Iridium NEXT constellation, featuring 66 interconnected low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, will enable never before possible services like the AireonSM global aircraft tracking and surveillance system and its new broadband service, Iridium Certus.
Iridium Certus will be the world’s first truly global broadband service, providing reliable connections for the aviation, maritime, land-mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) related industries, including essential safety services. And while Iridium is already relied upon by first responders, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a variety of industries worldwide, Iridium Certus will bring users an upgraded infrastructure using Iridium’s resilient L-band spectrum, but with higher throughputs and faster speeds.
Iridium’s safety services portfolio includes multiple capabilities including aircraft tracking and communications, emergency voice and data communications, personal tracking and remote monitoring applications. Specific to the maritime industry, Iridium has been recognized as the second-ever satellite communications provider for the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) and plans to begin providing service in early 2020. This is a critical, life-saving service for mariners, and the addition of Iridium will for the first time extend the reach of satellite-enabled GMDSS to even the most remote waterways.
“Our strong presence in the world of safety services is a testament to the unique benefits our network can enable,” said Matt Desch, chief executive officer at Iridium. “With every successful launch, we are one step closer to Iridium NEXT being fully operational, which officially starts a new age of satellite connectivity. When it comes to safety communications, especially for those operating in the skies or out at sea, having built-in network redundancy and resiliency enabled by our satellite’s crosslinks is paramount, especially during times of distress. We recognize this and feel that as the only network covering the entire planet, we have an inherent responsibility to constantly innovate for this critical arena.”
Iridium NEXT is the Company’s $3 billion, next-generation, mobile, global satellite network scheduled for completion this year. It will replace the existing network in one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space. Today’s launch delivered all five Iridium NEXT satellites to orbital plane six where they will immediately begin preparations for the pre-operational testing and validation processes. The network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each hosting 11 satellites, blanketing the earth with reliable satellite connectivity.
To date, Iridium has completed six launches, all with SpaceX out of its west coast launch facility, Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. A total of eight Iridium NEXT launches are currently planned with SpaceX and will deliver 75 new satellites to orbit. In total, 81 satellites are being built, with 66 in the operational constellation, nine serving as on-orbit spares and six as ground spares.
For more information about Iridium, please visit www.Iridium.com
For more information about Iridium Certus, please visit www.IridiumCertus.com
For more information about Iridium NEXT, please visit www.IridiumNEXT.com
Iridium is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Iridium enables connections between people, organizations and assets to and from anywhere, in real time. Together with its ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium delivers an innovative and rich portfolio of reliable solutions for markets that require truly global communications. The company has a major development program underway for its next-generation network – Iridium NEXT. Iridium Communications Inc. is headquartered in McLean, Va., U.S.A., and its common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol IRDM. For more information about Iridium products, services and partner solutions, visit www.iridium.com.
Forward Looking Statements
Statements in this press release that are not purely historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Company has based these statements on its current expectations and the information currently available to us. Forward-looking statements in this press release include statements regarding the timing for deployment, development and capabilities of the Iridium NEXT constellation and services to be offered over the constellation, including Aireon, Iridium Certus and safety services. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the words “anticipates,” “may,” “can,” “believes,” “expects,” “projects,” “intends,” “likely,” “will,” “to be” and other expressions that are predictions or indicate future events, trends or prospects. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Iridium to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, uncertainties regarding potential delays in the Iridium NEXT deployment, the development and functionality of Iridium NEXT and related services, approvals with respect to safety services, and the company’s ability to maintain the health, capacity and content of its satellite constellation, as well as general industry and economic conditions, and competitive, legal, governmental and technological factors. Other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements include those factors listed under the caption “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2017, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on February 22, 2018, and in the Company’s Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2018, filed with the SEC on April 26, 2018, as well as other filings Iridium makes with the SEC from time to time. There is no assurance that Iridium’s expectations will be realized. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or if Iridium’s underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those expected, estimated or projected. Iridium’s forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release, and Iridium undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements.P