Iridium final launch delayed
A short delay to yesterday’s planned launch of the final 10 Iridium NEXT satellites has been announced by the US-based communication system specialist.
The delay was apparently caused by late running of SpaceX’ static firing test which was completed on Sunday morning. Launches normally take place several days after the tests have been satisfactorily completed.
Yesterday Iridium posted a statement on its website saying ‘We have been informed that Iridium-8 is now targeted for January 11th at 7:31 AM PST (15:31 UTC). The static fire test was successfully completed, our satellites are encapsulated within the fairing, being mated today (1/8/2019) to the Falcon 9 and awaiting launch’.
If the SpaceX Launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base does not take place on Friday it will likely launch on Saturday instead. The $3bn satellite launch programme to put the 75 satellites needed for the Next constellation began almost two years ago on 14 January 2017. Some of the satellites in Friday’s launch will be used as spares for the constellation.
Completion of the constellation will allow progress in Iridium’s move to approved GMDSS service provider. Before the company can fully participate in GMDSS, type-approved equipment will need to be developed and made available.