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IRIDIUM NEXT – Setting the standards in constellations


September 10, 2018

 

In the frame of the World Satellite Business Week in Paris, Jean Loïc Galle, CEO of Thales Alenia Space, (joint venture between Thales 67% and Leonardo 33%) and Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium, have presented to the press the Iridium® NEXT stakes and challenges. This telecommunication constellation based on 81 satellites is now the world’s highest performance and most sophisticated constellation, 65 satellites have already been deployed in 7 launches.
The challenge for Thales Alenia Space was not only to deliver in orbit a large series of satellites, but above all to commission a complete and complex turnkey system, while also ensuring the compatibility between the first and next generation of Iridium satellites. It’s the first time that an operator and a manufacturer have worked hand in hand to replace a full constellation of 66 satellites, one by one, without interrupting user service.

The Iridium® NEXT constellation is now virtually complete and it’s up and running. It represents today’s state of the art in terms of technology and flexibility. These latest-generation technologies embarked are the key to total flexibility for users, since the constellation offers both global coverage and independence from any local user ground segment. This independence will guarantee communications at any time, even during natural disasters and means that the constellation can provide secure communications, including protection against intrusion and piracy.

“To deliver such a very large and complex constellation, comprising satellites weighing some 850 kilos at launch, we had to rethink how to manage our supply chain and our own industrial processes in addition to achieve impressive technological challenges”, declared Jean Loïc Galle, CEO of Thales Alenia Space. “Iridium® NEXT is today the highest performance and most sophisticated constellation ever built and we are proud for having risen to this challenge allowing us to offer a world class expertise to the market”.

“The Iridium network is unique in many ways, and the requirements to replace the network were more complex and challenging than perhaps anything in space, other than the creation of the system 20 years ago,” said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium. “Thales Alenia Space took this challenge head-on, and today we’ve nearly replaced the entire network with state-of-the-art satellites that allow us to bring a new generation of technology, like our Iridium CertusSM broadband service, to our more than 1 million customers around the world.”