Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) and SpaceX said they have announced the successful completion of dispenser qualification testing for the Iridium NEXT constellation.
The dispenser is the mission-unique assembly that holds the satellites during launch and manages the perfectly timed separation of each satellite from the rocket, placing each of the satellites into its proper orbit. The testing program, a key milestone in the Iridium NEXT constellation build, included four types of testing on the satellite dispenser: fit check, separation and shock testing, a modal survey, and static loads testing. Overall the tests ensure launch shock environment, mechanical form, fit and function, separation dynamics, fundamental frequency and structural integrity.
SpaceX is charged with delivering the majority of satellites for the Iridium NEXT constellation into their low Earth orbit. At each launch, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry 10 satellites. In total, SpaceX will launch 70 satellites for the Iridium NEXT constellation over a planned period of two years. Iridium is SpaceX´s largest commercial customer, and, with an investment of USD453.1m, the Iridium deal represents the largest single commercial space launch contract in history.
The Iridium NEXT satellite network will offer greater bandwidth, improved data speeds and continued service as the only satellite network offering truly global coverage.
Iridium is a mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Its website is at www.iridium.com.