Iridium announces successful first launch of next-generation satellites
Iridium Communications announced Saturday the successful launch of its first ten Iridium NEXT satellites. The satellites were delivered into low-Earth orbit approximately one hour after the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:54 am PST. Iridium NEXT is the company's next-generation satellite constellation. Iridium and SpaceX are partnered for a series of seven launches, deploying ten Iridium NEXT satellites at a time. The next major milestone will be the completion of on-orbit testing of these satellites. The second Iridium NEXT launch will be scheduled after that testing is completed, in April. The entire Iridium NEXT network is scheduled to be completed by mid-2018.