On January 11, 2019, SpaceX successfully launched the latest round of ten Iridium Next satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base. These new satellites will upgrade and expand the existing Iridium global communications network, which is a key element in SmartCover Systems’ robust remote monitoring architecture.
Below are some excerpts from the Bloomberg Environment report on the launch:
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, is carrying satellite history. On board are 10 Iridium satellites, the last batch needed to encircle the world from space and provide global communications technology.
Military, maritime, scientifc, and aviation industries are among Iridium’s more than 430 customers, as well as businesses that provide GPS tracking, outlets that use anti-poaching tags for elephants, and a company that affixes tiny Iridium antennas to manhole covers to monitor sewers.
Known as Iridium Next, the satellites launched Jan. 11 are replacing older technology that has been orbiting since the late 1990s and is well past prime. This is the eighth launch and completes the $3 billion system.
“We’ve been spending all of our money on satellites and rockets,” Iridium Communications Inc. Chief Executive Offcer Matt Desch told Bloomberg Environment. “That all ends. This is a historic moment for us.”
The network needs only 66 satellites to complete a constellation for total coverage, but with this launch there will be 75. “We have some extras in space as spares,” Desch said.
Iridium Next will provide faster transmission times, reducing from 20 seconds to roughly 5 to 10 seconds, said Greg Quist, CEO and founder of SmartCover Systems, a California company that uses Iridium to monitor water and sewer systems. So far, Iridium technology has identified more than 20,000 overfows before they were critical, saving $100 million.
“We have manholes that are talking to satellites and back down to Earth,” Quist told Bloomberg Environment. “It enables us to do a better job, be more reliable.”