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Iridium NEXT: In Review

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Iridium NEXT in ReviewIridium® NEXT has been a historic mission here at Iridium, and in the space industry as a whole! Our team was able to completely replace the original Iridium constellation with all new, upgraded satellites, enabling new, faster services like Iridium CertusSM – all without disrupting service for our existing users!

A few days ago, we completed the transition of 100 percent of our services to the new satellites. As we celebrate this exciting milestone, let’s take a look back at the stats that shaped the largest tech refresh in space history!

Iridium NEXT: By the Numbers

  • Approximately $3 Billion invested in the Iridium NEXT satellite replacement program since it was announced in 2007
  • 81 satellites built by Thales Alenia Space, with 66 in the active constellation, 9 in-orbit spares, and 6 ground spares
  • 8 successful Iridium NEXT launches with SpaceX in less than 2 years. Each launch sent 10 satellites into space – except Launch 6, which sent 5 during a historic rideshare mission with NASA
  • Continued to provide uninterrupted communications to 100% of the planet
  • Enabled the 1st ever truly global broadband service: Iridium Certus
  • 22 Iridium NEXT mission partners involved in bringing the upgraded constellation to life
  • Each satellite is crosslinked to up to 4 others – 2 in the same orbital plane and 1 in each adjacent plane, enabling continuous connections at a lower latency
  • 2 hosted payloads on each satellite, enabling the aviation and maritime industries to take advantage of real-time, truly global surveillance systems

The Iridium NEXT launch mission wasn’t all we were up to in the past few years, though! While we finished launching 75 new satellites into space (66 in the active constellation and 9 in-orbit spares), in 2018 we also…

  • Broke a 20year monopoly on GMDSS, becoming the 2nd ever recognized provider for GMDSS satellite services to the maritime community
  • Introduced Iridium CloudConnect, which will enable Amazon Web Services IoT to be available to the 80%+ of the planet currently lacking communications coverage
  • Partnered with ICOM to begin development on the world’s 1st truly global push-to-talk only (PTT) radio handheld
  • Became the preferred provider of satellite communications for The Ocean Cleanup, an ambitious project to rid the world’s oceans of plastic garbage and perform the largest ocean cleanup in history – starting with 50% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every 5 years
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