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Iridium NEXT Flight Seven readied for launch atop SpaceX Falcon 9

Iridium NEXT Flight Seven readied for launch atop SpaceX Falcon 9 Iridium NEXT Flight Seven readied for launch atop SpaceX Falcon 9 ...

Iridium NEXT Flight Seven readied for launch atop SpaceX Falcon 9

Iridium NEXT Flight Seven readied for launch atop SpaceX Falcon 9 Jason Rhian July 18th, 2018 Launch of Iridium 1 from Vandenburg Air Force Station's Space Launch Complex 4. Photo Credit: SpaceX

Launch of Iridium 1 from Vandenburg Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 4. Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX is working to rack up another successful launch for its 2018 manifest in the next couple of days. As is often the case with the NewSpace firm, this mission will be a commercial flight meant to further a long-standing collaboration with one of the company’s most loyal customers.

An Iridium NEXT satellite. Image Credit: Iridium Communications

An I ridium NEXT satellite. Image Credit: Iridium Communications

The successful completion of this mission should see the number of Iridium NEXT satellites placed in orbit on behalf of Iridium Communications increase to 65. It is currently thought that to complete the constellation will take at least eight flights to loft the entire fleet of 75 spacecraft.

Iridium NEXT represents a $3 billion investment by the company. Launches like Flight Seven is to put in place a mobile, global satellite network and has been described by Iridium Communications as “…one of the largest technology upgrades ever completed in space.”

If everything with the Iridium NEXT constellation performs as advertised, the fleet will provide an array of services, such as global aircraft tracking and surveillance provided by the AireonSM system.

This series of launches are being flown to replace Iridium Communications’s entire fleet of “legacy” spacecraft already in service. When these spacecraft are in place, this new constellation will owe its success to some eight flights of SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets.

The mission is currently slated to lift off around 5:12 am PDT (12:12 UTC) on Friday, July 20. Friday’s planned launch should be the next-to-last launch of the planned Iridium NEXT program.

Some 81 Iridium NEXT satellites have been constructed. Sixty-six of these will comprise the operational on-orbit fleet with an additional nine in space serving as on-orbit spares. The remaining six will stay on Earth and serve as ground spares.

The version of the Falcon 9 rocket selected to carry out this particular flight, the Block 5 variant of the launch vehicle and is scheduled to take to California’s skies on July 20 (2018) from SpaceX’s launch facilities located at Vandenberg Air Force Base’s Space Launch Complex 4 (SLC-4). The two-stage Falcon 9 is fueled by a mixture of liquid oxygen and RP-1 (a refined version of kerosene).

Space X has already carried out 12 flights so far this year (2018), either from its facilities at Vandenberg or from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida.

“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 stated in a May 2018 release issued by the company. “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.”

Video courtesy of Dec. 22, 2017 Iridium NEXT launch provided by IridiumComm

Jason Rhian

Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

Source: Google News US Science | Netizen 24 United States

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