The eighth and final Iridium NEXT launch will bring to fruition a near 12-year campaign to replace and upgrade the Iridium communications network in Earth orbit. In preparation for the final launch, Iridium CEO Matt Desch talked with NASASpaceflight’s Chris Gebhardt about the personal side of the completion of more than a decade’s worth of work.
Iridium NEXT-8 is scheduled for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from SLC-4E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Liftoff is targeted for a single-second, instantaneous window of 07:31:33 PST (10:31:33 EST; 1531:33 UTC) on Friday, 11 January 2019.
Twelve years on – Iridium NEXT constellation history:
For a company that was bankrupt in 1999, the prospect of completely replacing and upgrading its extensive orbital satellite constellation was a non-starter.
But a government contract in December 2000 coupled with the sale of the company began the long road toward financial restitution for Iridium.
In September 2006, Iridium hired a new CEO, Matt Desch, not just to lead the company to greater financial success but to also upgrade and improve its existing offerings.
Iridium CEO Matt Desch on an Iridium handset at SpaceX west coast pad. (Credit: Jay L. DeShetler for NSF/L2)
Less than ...