MCLEAN, Va., Oct. 19, 2017 (Iridium Communications PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ:IRDM) announced today that the fourth Iridium NEXT launch has been targeted by SpaceX for December 22, 2017 at 5:26 p.m. PT [1:26 a.m. UTC on Dec. 23], from Vandenberg Air Force Base.
This launch signifies the mid-way point of the Iridium NEXT launch program and will deliver another 10 satellites to orbit, bringing the total number deployed to 40. Targeted for just over two months after the third Iridium NEXT launch, this December date enables Iridium to maintain its planned cadence of completing all launches by mid-2018, even with SpaceX’s busy launch manifest.
Federal regulatory filings indicate SpaceX plans to launch a mysterious payload as early as Nov. 10 in a previously-undisclosed mission.
It is unusual for such a mission to remain secret so close to launch, and there has been no public claim of ownership for the payload — codenamed Zuma — from any government or commercial institution.
SpaceX did not respond to questions on the mission Saturday, but an application submitted by the launch company to the Federal Communications Commission says the flight will use a Falcon 9 booster launched from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The existence of the mission was first reported on NASASpaceflight.com Saturday, but the FCC filings are public record….
Two filings concern the secretive launch next month, one for the Falcon 9’s liftoff and climb into orbit from Florida’s Space Coast, and another for the first stage booster’s planned return to Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for refurbishment and reuse.
SpaceX has successfully launched Falcon 9 a total of 15 times in 2017. Spaceflightnow.com’s launch schedule shows that SpaceX has five more flights scheduled for this year, not including the Zuma mission. Below is the schedule with the Zuma flight included.
Launch crews in the United States, China and Japan are celebrating successful flights to start a busy launch week.
China got things started by launching the Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite aboard a Long March 2D rocket from Jiuquan.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 followed up with an early morning launch of 10 Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The flight included the 17th successful landing of a Falcon 9 first stage.
The Japanese successfully launched the Michibiki 4 navigation satellite from the Tanegashima Space Center.
Below is the launch schedule for the rest of the month. It is possible that an Atlas V that had been scheduled to launch a national reconnaissance satellite last week will be added to the schedule for later this month. The launch was delayed twice due to weather and the third time because of a faulty telemetry transmitter. ULA has not set a new launch date.
Falcon 9 Payload: SES 11/EchoStar 105 communications satellite Launch window: 6:53-8:53 p.m. EDT (2253-0053 GMT) Launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
SpaceX has planned two Falcon 9 launches this weekend, one from each coast.
A Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch the BulgariaSat 1 communications satellite from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today. The two-hour launch window opens at 2:10 p.m. EDT. The flight marks the second reuse of a first stage.
The second Falcon 9 flight is scheduled for Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EDT from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The booster will launch 10 Iridium Next satellites.
MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 15, 2017 (Iridium PR) — Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announced it has received a targeted launch date of mid-June for the second mission of ten Iridium NEXT satellites. Originally anticipated for mid-April of 2017, the date has shifted due to a backlog in SpaceX’s launch manifest as a result of last year’s September 1st anomaly. This second launch will deliver another ten Iridium NEXT satellites to low-Earth-orbit (LEO) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX is targeting six subsequent Iridium NEXT launches approximately every two months thereafter.
HAWTHORNE, Calif. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will deliver 10 satellites to low-Earth orbit for Iridium, a global leader in mobile voice and data satellite communications. The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.
SpaceX is targeting launch of Iridium-1 from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The instantaneous launch window opens on January 14 at 9:54:39 am PST or 5:54:39 pm UTC. The satellites will begin deployment about an hour after launch.
In another blow to Ukraine’s struggling space sector, Iridium Communications has postponed plans to launch two Iridium Next satellites aboard a Dnepr launcher. Instead, Iridium will move up a scheduled launch of spacecraft aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9.
Space Newsreports the launch had been scheduled for April. However, the Russian Ministry of Defense has not yet issued the required licenses to launch the booster from Yasny spaceport.
Dnepr is a joint program between Ukraine and Russia under which decommissioned ballistic missiles are converted into satellite launches. Russia has been looking to phase out use of the booster in favor of domestic launchers amid political tensions with Ukraine.
The International Monetary Fund has estimated that Ukraine’s space sector has lost up to 80 percent of its revenues as a result of canceled orders from Russia.
The first two Iridium Next spacecraft were to be launched aboard Dnepr so engineers could verify their design and operations. The company plans to launch 72 Iridium Next spacecraft by the end of 2017.
Iridium now plans to launch the first 10 satellites aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket whose flight has been moved up to July from August. A second Falcon 9 would launch an additional 10 spacecraft in October.
The Dnepr launcher could be used later in the Iridium Next deployment sequence if the required licenses are obtained.
Excerpts From 2015 Small Satellite Market Observations Full Presentation Developed by: Ms. Elizabeth Buchen Director, Engineering Economics Group SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc. (SEI) Atlanta, GA
SpaceWorks’ 2014 Projection estimated between 140 and 143 nano/microsatellites across all sectors would launch globally in 2014; 158 nano/microsatellites were actually launched. This represented an increase of nearly 72% compared to 2013.
In 2014, 107 commercial nano/microsatellites (1-50 kg) launched and thousands of commercial small satellites (101-500 kg) are planned for launch over the next fifteen years. Recent multi-million and multi-billion dollar investments in various ventures confirm the commercial sector’s continued interest in the nano/microsatellite and small satellite industries. (more…)