Iridium Satellite LLC, which bought the assets of bankrupt Iridium LLC in December 2000, announced the successful deployment of five new spare satellites. This launch marks a significant milestone in the resurrection of the Iridium service and brand. Less than a year after launching commercial service and nearly two years since the original company closed its doors and planned to destroy the satellite constellation, Iridium Satellite has taken a significant step to extending the life of its global satellite communications network into 2010 and beyond.
Launched by The Boeing Company on a Delta II launch vehicle from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Feb. 11, the additional satellites join seven existing in-orbit spares to help enhance the longevity of its global voice and data communications network. The five satellites have ascended into their assigned orbits and are fully functional. Iridium Satellite plans to launch two more spares in June to complete planned upkeep of the constellation.
"The successful launch and deployment of five additional on-orbit spares demonstrates Iridium's long-term commitment to our customers and overall business objectives," said Gino Picasso, Iridium Satellite CEO. "Over the last several months, we've seen an increased interest and demand for the mission-critical capabilities our services can provide, and as a result, we are ahead of our business plan. This launch offers further proof that Iridium is very much in business and poised to leverage the many new opportunities we see in the marketplace."
Consisting of 66 operational satellites plus spares, the Iridium system provides industrial, government and individual customers with global voice and data services specifically to communicate to and from remote areas. Based on Iridium's internal estimates and an external study by an independent company, the satellite constellation is expected to last until mid-2010.
Iridium Satellite launched commercial service on March 30, 2001 and has experienced significant and growing demand for its global communications solutions. The company introduced mobile Internet access worldwide in June 2001 and has since launched targeted solutions for the aeronautical, maritime and other vertical markets.