[Satellite TODAY Insider 03-15-12] Iridium Communications CEO Matt Desch, winner of Via Satellite magazine’s 2011 Satellite Executive of the Year Award, confirmed March 13 that the Iridium NEXT constellation has passed its preliminary design review phase and is ready to enter its critical design review phase.
The preliminary design review evaluates initial design and specifications for all elements of the satellite system, including payload, main mission antenna, feeder links and cross links. The constellation’s feeder and cross links will be responsible for communicating to ground stations and between satellites, respectively. Payload and main mission antennas also will be built and tested to ensure reliability, resilience and compatibility.
“The foundation for Iridium NEXT satellite design is complete,” Iridium NEXT Executive Vice President Scott Smith said in a statement. “Under the direction of our prime contractor Thales Alenia Space, we have now begun the detailed design phase … We have an amazing, innovative group of partners and we are confident in the tremendous progress we have made on the world’s most significant commercial space program. Our organization and its ecosystem of partners around the world are very excited about the influence this tremendous, next-generation network will have on continuing to connect organizations and people in ways never before thought possible.”
Desch told Satellite TODAY Insider that 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.
“We expect to complete the critical design review for the space segment of the constellation in early 2013,” said Desch. “From there, the initial space and launch vehicle hardware production and extensive performance testing will commence to ensure the constellation meets its requirements. In 2014, we will conduct satellite and launcher/dispenser level qualification testing and initiate satellite low-rate production in preparation for the first launch the next year. By 2017, we plan to have the constellation complete and Iridium NEXT fully operational”
Desch received the 2011 Satellite Executive of the Year award at the SATELLITE 2012 Conference and Exhibition reception dinner March 14.