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NEWS
Date for Fifth IridiumĀ® NEXT Launch Announced
January 23, 2018

Iridium Communications Inc. recently announced that the fifth Iridium NEXT launch has been targeted by SpaceX for March 18, 2018 at 8:19 am PDT (15:19 UTC) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The first of four launches planned for 2018, Iridium-5 will deliver 10 more Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit, bringing the total number of new satellites deployed to 50. This launch will use the same Falcon 9 first stage as the Iridium-3 launch that took place in October 2017 and begin a rapid-cadence launch schedule targeting completion of the Iridium manifest by mid-2018.

The Iridium network is comprised of six polar orbiting planes, each containing 11 operational crosslinked satellites, for a total of 66 satellites in the active constellation. The Iridium-5 launch will deliver the new satellites to orbital plane 1, where all 10 will go directly into service after testing and validation. Following Iridium-5, the Iridium-6 Rideshare mission is targeted for mid-to-late April. The Rideshare will carry five Iridium NEXT satellites and the twin satellites for the NASA/German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission. The final four launches will bring a total of 35 new satellites to space, completing the constellation of 66 operational satellites and 9 in-orbit spares.


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