Iridium confirms new satellite launch date

Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

As first new satellites in two decades go into service, Iridium says SpaceX will launch another 10 at end of June

Iridium has put the first 10 of its new satellites into service and has announced the date for launching the second 10 of the complete fleet of 75.

SpaceX launched the first 10 Iridium Next satellites on 14 January, at the beginning of a programme to replace all of the company’s 20-year-old fleet with modern equipment.

All of those have been tested and have moved into service, replacing 10 of the old satellites.

Scott Smith, chief operating officer at Iridium, said: “Conducting multiple slot swaps to replace a network of this magnitude is an incredible task … We have been preparing for this process for years, and since first launch the team has worked non-stop to manage each manoeuvre to successfully integrate the new satellites into the active network.”

SpaceX plans to launch satellites 11-20 on 29 June. The private company, run by electric car entrepreneur Elon Musk, is running behind schedule because of a launch-pad explosion last September. Iridium expects to complete its replacement programme by the middle of 2018.

Iridium said last week that it expects total service revenue to be growing at 3-5% a year this year and that it will reach $440 million to $465 million for the full year 2019.