Iridium Next constellation passes critical milestones

by Staff Reporter | March 14th, 2012

Scott Smith, executive vice president, Iridium NEXT

With the planned commencement of the launch of its next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium Next, less than 36 months away, Iridium announced the completion of the satellite preliminary design review phase of the programme. This phase concludes the preliminary design and specifications for all elements of the satellite system, including payload, main mission antenna, feeder links and cross links.

“The foundation for Iridium Next satellite design is complete,” said Scott Smith, executive vice president, Iridium Next. “By successfully finalising the first phase of the programme design process, our engineers and partners, under the direction of our prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, have now begun the detailed design phase, which includes building prototype hardware of all elements, including satellites, antennas and ground infrastructure.”

By completing the preliminary design phase of Iridium Next satellites, Iridium and its partners will now begin constructing engineering model units that will be used to verify the design and performance of the system prior to full construction start in 2013. Iridium expects to complete its constellation (Space Segment) Critical Design Review Phase in early 2013.

Among the prototypes under construction are the constellation’s feeder links and cross links, which will be responsible for communicating to ground stations and between satellites, respectively. Payload and main mission antennas will also be built and tested to ensure reliability, resilience and compatibility.

Reportedly the world’s largest commercial satellite constellation, the Iridium network, is the “engine” behind the communications innovation delivered by the company and its ecosystem of 275 partners.

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