With the planned commencement of the launch of its next-generation satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT, less than 36 months away, Iridium says it has completed the satellite preliminary design review phase of the program. This phase concludes the preliminary design and specifications for all elements of the satellite system, including payload, main mission antenna, feeder links and cross links.
Scott Smith (Executive vice president, Iridium NEXT): The foundation for Iridium NEXT satellite design is complete. By successfully finalizing the first phase of the program design process, our engineers and partners, under the direction of our prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, have now begun the detailed design phase, which includes building prototype hardware of all elements, including satellites, antennas and ground infrastructure.
By completing the preliminary design phase of Iridium NEXT satellites, Iridium and its partners will now begin constructing engineering model units that will be used to verify the design and performance of the system prior to full construction start in 2013. Iridium expects to complete its constellation (Space Segment) Critical Design Review Phase in early 2013.
The following time line outlines plans for the future critical milestones in the evolution of the Iridium NEXT constellation:
• 2012: Detailed hardware and software design culminating in the Space Segment Critical Design Review (CDR) in early 2013
• 2013: Initial space and launch vehicle hardware production and extensive performance testing to ensure it meets its requirements
• 2014: Satellite and launcher/dispenser level qualification testing and the initiation of satellite low-rate production in preparation for the first launch
• 2015: First year of launching and integrating Iridium NEXT satellite vehicles into the Iridium® constellation; transition to full-rate production
• 2016: Second year of launching and integrating the Iridium NEXT satellite vehicles
• 2017: Planned complete constellation replacement with Iridium NEXT fully operational