Aireon has launched and deployed the third batch of 10 Iridium Next satellites with ADS-B payloads, the company said. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
There are now 30 Aireon payloads in orbit, and the company has planned for 45 more. Subsequent launches are planned over the next 10 months. Aireon said it is on track to become “the first to provide global real-time air traffic surveillance and tracking” to service providers and stakeholders.
“Even with only a partial constellation in orbit, we’ve been able to start tracking flights that nobody has been able to fully track before,” said FlightAware CEO Daniel Baker. FlightAware has been teaming with Aireon since 2016 for a flight-tracking solution. “Each and every successful launch of Iridium Next satellites makes us more excited to be the first and only flight tracking service to offer 100% global coverage to airline customers and other partners like Sitaonair. Through our partnership with Aireon, we will be able to provide an unprecedented level of visibility and enable operators unparalleled control of their fleet.”
The Iridium Next satellite constellation, in its completion, is to consist of 66 low-Earth-orbit interconnected satellites. In total, 81 Iridium Next satellite are being built and all are to carry the Aireon payload. Completion is planned for mid-2018.