Iridium has successfully launched 10 of its Iridium NEXT satellites US aboard a SpaceX rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Sunday’s mission also saw the SpaceX Falcon first-stage come back to Earth under control to drone ships that had been positioned out on the ocean.
Iridium is currently replacing its global network of satellites and this latest launch brings the total to 20.
SpaceX has another six launches planned for Iridium with each NEXT satellite weighing about 1,900 pounds, which is about the size of a Mini Cooper.
The new Iridium satellites also host payloads for Aireon, which aims to offer a service that reports the positions of aircraft by sensing their ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) transmissions from space.
SITAONAIR has hailed the successful launch of the second set of Iridium NEXT constellation satellites as another step closer to achieving minute-by-minute, 100% global aircraft flight-tracking.
In partnership with Aireon and FlightAware, SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM FlightTracker will deliver enhanced capabilities to airline customers from 2018.
Aireon’s space-based automatic dependent surveillance broadcast data (ADS-B) will then fill any gaps in current flight-tracking coverage globally – and is expected to be transmitted through the complete Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, via FlightAware.
Paul Gibson, Portfolio Director, AIRCOM, at SITAONAIR, said: “This is an exciting moment for SITAONAIR as the second set of satellites start their journey to enabling us to deliver 100% global, real-time flight-tracking to the air transport industry. We are looking forward to seeing the project progress and being able to demonstrate its value to airlines.
“The beauty of adding space-based ADS-B data to our current AIRCOM® FlightTracker is that it will integrate seamlessly into the existing interface, while increasing tracking coverage up to 100%.
“In short, the airlines who adopt our space-based flight-tracking will have the tools to see the precise position, speed and altitude of all airborne fleet – any time, anywhere – and be immediately alerted if any aircraft veers from its flight plan, even if that route is over ocean or the Poles.
“With real-time alerts generated at least once a minute, airlines with enhanced FlightTracker will be way ahead of the ICAO’s best practice one-minute mandate – truly consolidating their commitment to safe travel.”