Author Topic: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (June 29 2017) - Discussion  (Read 14512 times)

Offline gongora

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DISCUSSION THREAD for Flight 2 of the Iridium NEXT missions.

Flight 2: NET June 29 on Falcon 9 from SLC-4E at Vandenberg

   Flight 2 will launch 10 satellites into Iridium plane 3.

   NSF Threads for Iridium NEXT Flight 2: Discussion
   NSF Articles for Iridium NEXT Flight 2:

Flight 1 was a successful launch and first stage offshore landing, January 14, 2017 (9:54 PST/17:54 UTC) on Falcon 9 from SLC-4E at Vandenberg.  See the Flight 1 Discussion Thread for more information and links to other Flight 1 threads and articles.

General information for Iridium flights 1-7
   Payload Mass: 8600kg for 10 satellites + 1000kg for dispenser = 9600kg
   Launch orbit: 625km, 86.66 degrees
   Operational orbit: 778km, 86.4 degrees

81 Satellites will be built for the Iridium NEXT, with 66 being needed for a fully operational constellation.  All of the satellites will carry ADS-B aviation tracking hosted payloads for Aireon, and 60 of the satellites will carry AIS maritime tracking hosted payloads for exactEarth.



Other SpaceX resources on NASASpaceflight:
   SpaceX News Articles (Recent)  /   SpaceX News Articles from 2006 (Including numerous exclusive Elon interviews)
   SpaceX Dragon Articles  /  SpaceX Missions Section (with Launch Manifest and info on past and future missions)
   L2 SpaceX Section
« Last Edit: 04/27/2017 12:39 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #1 on: 01/23/2017 05:48 PM »
Question tweeted to Matt Desch: @IridiumBoss when the next 10 satellites will be shipped to vandenberg??
Answer from Matt Desch: @kbehera350 Starting later in February for an April launch.

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #2 on: 02/03/2017 07:02 PM »
https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/827479074021003264
Quote
pbdes: @Thales_Alenia_S(3): 2d batch of IRDM Next sats planned for April on @SpaceX. Koreasat 5A geo sat may launch July on @SpaceX, then 3d IRDM.

also

Tweet from Peter B. de Selding
Quote
@Thales_Alenia_S (2): We've 22 @IridiumComm Next sats ready for @SpaceX launch & 10 finishing integration. Orbit test of 1st 10 going well.

Online SmallKing

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #3 on: 02/15/2017 12:33 PM »
Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  10 min
 Iridium says the launch of its next ten satellites will slip to mid-June because of a backlog in SpaceX’s manifest: http://bit.ly/2kpGL5S
To land a rocket!

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #4 on: 02/16/2017 03:39 PM »
Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  10 min
 Iridium says the launch of its next ten satellites will slip to mid-June because of a backlog in SpaceX’s manifest: http://bit.ly/2kpGL5S

Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Offline stcks

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #5 on: 02/16/2017 03:43 PM »
Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Why does it matter which pad is involved? A manifest backlog is still a backlog. There are only so many F9 being made and at least 6 (??) manifested missions ahead of them. Other customers are taking priority at the moment.

Offline hkultala

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #6 on: 02/16/2017 03:47 PM »
Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Why does it matter which pad is involved? A manifest backlog is still a backlog. There are only so many F9 being made and at least 6 (??) manifested missions ahead of them. Other customers are taking priority at the moment.

Manufacturing cores is not a bottleneck currently, they had plenty of time to manufactore lots of F9 cores when they were not launching any when the last RUD investigation was going on.

Also they have multiple used F9 cores waiting to be reused.


But one explanation:

They might not have the launch site crews for mutiple simultaneous launches, some people may move between the launch sites.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2017 03:48 PM by hkultala »

Offline gongora

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #7 on: 02/16/2017 03:49 PM »
Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?

Why does it matter which pad is involved? A manifest backlog is still a backlog. There are only so many F9 being made and at least 6 (??) manifested missions ahead of them. Other customers are taking priority at the moment.

Manufacturing cores is not a bottleneck currently, they had plenty of time to manufactore lots of F9 cores when they were not launching any when the last RUD investigation was going on.

Also they have multiple used F9 cores waiting to be reused.

Do you have any information to back up those statements, or are they just assumptions?

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Re: SpaceX Falcon 9 - Iridium NEXT Flight 2 (April 2017)
« Reply #8 on: 02/16/2017 03:55 PM »
Jeff Foust ‏@jeff_foust  10 min
 Iridium says the launch of its next ten satellites will slip to mid-June because of a backlog in SpaceX’s manifest: http://bit.ly/2kpGL5S

Can someone please explain how a manifest backlog on the east coast impacts the iridium launch from vendenburg?
Flight priorities, limited rockets, and delays between rockets required regardless of coast for data review and overlapping mission control personnel.

And if you think the rockets aren't limited, we'll see how long that lasts at 2 flights per month. They have some backlog of cores right now, but we generally don't know the status of second stages, fairings etc. and they had to be careful with production until the investigation was complete in case the findings required changes (which they definitely did for S2, not sure the extent to which S1 was affected.)

Offline tleski

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And the fact that they have a stockpile of used stages is not a guarantee of oversupply. There is only one flight planned so far (not counting the FH side boosters) and we will not know how well it works until after that launch. So, for now, most of the SpaceX customers are booking brand new (and flight untested) first stages as far as we know.
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Online mn

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Not sure who to quote with all the responses.

The most plausible explanation I think is a shortage of cores (reusable cores don't count unless the customer wants to launch on a reused core, we only know of one such customer at this time).

(I don't know about crew limits or data review and such stuff, I have a hard time buying that as the cause.)

But that begs the question: Why is the a shortage? what were they doing all that time? Perhaps the explanation is that at the end of the investigation they need to rework already built stages for a required change. (or they held back on building to avoid that situation).

And my main question is: what changed now? which part of core shortage (or whatever is the issue) didn't they know about a month ago?

Offline cscott

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I'd guess we're not getting quite the whole story.  We're missing some bits of info, since as @mn notes, what we're hearing doesn't quite add up.

Pure speculation: there's some not-crucial-but-nice-to-have fix identified on the iridium side, coupled with "it's taking longer than expected to commission LC-39A and there are some additional things we'll need some downtime for in the next few months" on the SpaceX side, resulting in a mutual decision on both sides to slip the launch.  Since iridium is publicly traded (and SpaceX is not) it's safer not to mention the iridium issue in the announcement.

Again, as a pure guess, I'd say SpaceX said something like "your launch might be a month late" and iridium countered with "well, if we make it two we can open up our satellites and fix XYZ". Handshakes all around.
« Last Edit: 02/16/2017 05:01 PM by cscott »

Offline stcks

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Online mn

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Another thought: Perhaps they knew about the core shortage all along, there was lots of jockeying for position as to who goes first, as recently Feb 3rd iridium thought they get a core in April and just now a decision was made that they have to wait a bit longer.

Certainly plausible and does not require any conspiracy theories.

(and if this were the case this would also mean if there are additional pad delays on the east coast, that could possibly put April back in play for iridium)

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Sorry but this theory I have the hardest time understanding. If anything, delays at 39A should make it easier to launch iridium on time.

Offline stcks

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Sorry but this theory I have the hardest time understanding. If anything, delays at 39A should make it easier to launch iridium on time.

Just my 2 cents again, but heres how I read it: If the delays were going to be many more months, then Iridium at VAFB would be taking priority. But since they are now L-2 on 39A those east coast customers who are chomping at the bit to get into orbit are taking priority.

Online mn

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Its a nice story but honestly SpaceX was never going to be able to make an April flight after the 39A delays. With no delays it would still have been a long shot. The best case overly-optimistic scenario of being able to launch every 2 weeks barely gets them a launch in May. Lets see how these upcoming flights go and then we can make some predictions on whether the June date will hold as well.

Sorry but this theory I have the hardest time understanding. If anything, delays at 39A should make it easier to launch iridium on time.

Just my 2 cents again, but here's how I read it: If the delays were going to be many more months, then Iridium at VAFB would be taking priority. But since they are now L-2 on 39A those east coast customers who are chomping at the bit to get into orbit are taking priority.

So if I got you correctly, when CRS-10 was on for Feb 14 Iridium was officially on for April, but when CRS-10 got pushed to the 18th suddenly Iridium got pushed back to June?


Offline stcks

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So if I got you correctly, when CRS-10 was on for Feb 14 Iridium was officially on for April, but when CRS-10 got pushed to the 18th suddenly Iridium got pushed back to June?

No, thats not what I'm saying. I'm saying that having an active east coast pad means earmarking cores for those east coast customers who have been waiting.

Offline bstrong

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I would imagine core allocation comes down to a financial calculation. As I understand it, launch contracts usually include a penalty for the provider for missing the contractual launch date. So, SpaceX likely allocates cores and other constrained resources to whichever site will minimize the total penalties accrued.

The penalty minimizing allocation will change as you slip further behind on one pad vs. another and will favor sending cores to a site that is further behind and/or has a larger backlog.

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I would imagine core allocation comes down to a financial calculation. As I understand it, launch contracts usually include a penalty for the provider for missing the contractual launch date. So, SpaceX likely allocates cores and other constrained resources to whichever site will minimize the total penalties accrued.

The penalty minimizing allocation will change as you slip further behind on one pad vs. another and will favor sending cores to a site that is further behind and/or has a larger backlog.
I imagine if SES-10 is successful with a reused booster, there will be some arm twisting with some customers to get them to jump queue on a 'flight proven' booster and free up new boosters for others. Ie, wait six months for a new booster at x penalty, or launch in a month with x discount on a flight proven one. That approach could help the manifest for everyone.

Offline IanThePineapple

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I would imagine core allocation comes down to a financial calculation. As I understand it, launch contracts usually include a penalty for the provider for missing the contractual launch date. So, SpaceX likely allocates cores and other constrained resources to whichever site will minimize the total penalties accrued.

The penalty minimizing allocation will change as you slip further behind on one pad vs. another and will favor sending cores to a site that is further behind and/or has a larger backlog.
I imagine if SES-10 is successful with a reused booster, there will be some arm twisting with some customers to get them to jump queue on a 'flight proven' booster and free up new boosters for others. Ie, wait six months for a new booster at x penalty, or launch in a month with x discount on a flight proven one. That approach could help the manifest for everyone.

I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.
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Offline wardy89

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I would imagine core allocation comes down to a financial calculation. As I understand it, launch contracts usually include a penalty for the provider for missing the contractual launch date. So, SpaceX likely allocates cores and other constrained resources to whichever site will minimize the total penalties accrued.

The penalty minimizing allocation will change as you slip further behind on one pad vs. another and will favor sending cores to a site that is further behind and/or has a larger backlog.
I imagine if SES-10 is successful with a reused booster, there will be some arm twisting with some customers to get them to jump queue on a 'flight proven' booster and free up new boosters for others. Ie, wait six months for a new booster at x penalty, or launch in a month with x discount on a flight proven one. That approach could help the manifest for everyone.

I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.

I am not so sure about that the Iridium CEO has said on numerous occasions that all of there launches will be on NEW booster.

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I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.

I am not so sure about that the Iridium CEO has said on numerous occasions that all of there launches will be on NEW booster.

Reread Ian's post  wargy89
He said the boosters for the Iridium launches will get reused, not that Iridium will be the launches on the reused ("flight proven") first stages.
"Reused" vs "reuse"

Edit: or maybe not. Ian?
« Last Edit: 02/16/2017 11:39 PM by Comga »
What kind of wastrels would dump a perfectly good booster in the ocean after just one use?

Offline wardy89

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I'm sure one of the last Iridium missions will be reused, possibly the rideshares.

I am not so sure about that the Iridium CEO has said on numerous occasions that all of there launches will be on NEW booster.

Reread Ian's post  wargy89
He said the boosters for the Iridium launches will get reused, not that Iridium will be the launches on the reused ("flight proven") first stages.
"Reused" vs "reuse"

Edit: or maybe not. Ian?

Look at the context he is taking about the later missions and specifically mentions the ride share mission. I think he is suggesting that the a later mission or ride shame mission would fly on a reused booster. Why would they wait for one of the later mission boosters to re fly first as they already have one recovered iridium booster and we assume they will try and land all of them.
« Last Edit: 02/17/2017 12:02 AM by wardy89 »

Offline IanThePineapple

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I said the Iridium missions might [Edit: forgot to add "might " to the original message] use flight-proven boosters, as once the first few reused missions fly they may notice the good reliability and choose to modify the launch contract.
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Offline Sam Ho

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I said the Iridium missions might [Edit: forgot to add "might " to the original message] use flight-proven boosters, as once the first few reused missions fly they may notice the good reliability and choose to modify the launch contract.
Your original statement not only left out "might," but said "I'm sure."  It made the statement much more authoritative than the new version.  For some of our posters, an authoritative statement is truly authoritative, because they work in the industry, and are very careful to only say things they know are both true and allowed to talk about.  It would help reduce confusion if you phrase your statements with the appropriate degree of certainty.

In any case, Matt Desch has been quite clear that they are planning on new boosters and they currently see no schedule benefit from launching with used.
Quote from: Matt Desch
No, but a reused booster isn't available before our new one in June anyway.

Being assured we'll be launching every 8 weeks or so starting later this year with new, so not much to jump.
https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/832571794238427136

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Quote
IRDM CEO: SpaceX says rocket-build rhythm improves after June & we shld get quicker rate for our 65 to-be-launched sats on 7 Falcon 9s.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/834759735668772864

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Quote
IRDM CEO: SpaceX says rocket-build rhythm improves after June & we shld get quicker rate for our 65 to-be-launched sats on 7 Falcon 9s.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/834759735668772864

a: This at least confirms that the delay was due to a shortage of rockets.

b: That still leaves me wondering what changed in middle of Feb?

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b: That still leaves me wondering what changed in middle of Feb?

The messaging  ;)

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Is this new, I don't recall seeing it before:

Quote
Iridium Corporate‏ Verified account @IridiumComm 4m4 minutes ago

#DYK that there is a 4-leaf clover on each #IridiumNEXT launch patch? #SATSuperstition #StPatricksDay

https://twitter.com/IridiumComm/status/842729747402645504

Offline vanoord

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#DYK that there is a 4-leaf clover on each #IridiumNEXT launch patch? #SATSuperstition #StPatricksDay

Is that not usually used on most / all patches where an ASDS recovery is attempted? The Iridium 1 patch had a different clover leaf one it (below for illustration).

There's a clover leaf painted on one of the blast walls on OCISLY, but don't recall if JRTI has one as well?

Offline cscott

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It's on every SpaceX patch since the first successful Falcon 1 launch IIRC after a string of early failures seemed to suggest some extra luck might be useful.  It appeared on the ASDS as well following one of the crash landings which did damage to the barge.

Offline virnin

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It's on every SpaceX patch since the first successful Falcon 1 launch IIRC after a string of early failures seemed to suggest some extra luck might be useful.  It appeared on the ASDS as well following one of the crash landings which did damage to the barge.

One of the SpaceX employees seen in the Echostar 23 launch video was wearing a black t-shirt with a large green four-leaf clover with a SpaceX logo in the middle.  Seems to be a Corporate Standard.

Offline whitelancer64

It's on every SpaceX patch since the first successful Falcon 1 launch IIRC after a string of early failures seemed to suggest some extra luck might be useful.  It appeared on the ASDS as well following one of the crash landings which did damage to the barge.

One of the SpaceX employees seen in the Echostar 23 launch video was wearing a black t-shirt with a large green four-leaf clover with a SpaceX logo in the middle.  Seems to be a Corporate Standard.

You can buy that shirt from their online store.

https://shop.spacex.com/mens/men-s-lucky-launch-t-shirt.html
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Offline DaveJes1979

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Any word on if this will be the first attempt to land the first stage at Vandenberg?  I'd make the drive out to see that.

Offline KaiFarrimond

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Any word on if this will be the first attempt to land the first stage at Vandenberg?  I'd make the drive out to see that.
I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
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Offline e of pi

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I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
Iridiuam NEXT satellites are about 450 kg each, IIRC. Ten would be about 4.5 tons. Even adding the deployment system, I'd wager that's less than an ISS-bound Dragon, and they did RTLS on CRS-9 and CRS-10.

Offline KaiFarrimond

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I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
Iridiuam NEXT satellites are about 450 kg each, IIRC. Ten would be about 4.5 tons. Even adding the deployment system, I'd wager that's less than an ISS-bound Dragon, and they did RTLS on CRS-9 and CRS-10.

It's alot more than that. Around 9.6 Tonnes. Each sat weighs around 860kg and the dispenser is 1,000kg
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Offline macpacheco

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I don't think Iridium could make it back to land. Too heavy.
Iridiuam NEXT satellites are about 450 kg each, IIRC. Ten would be about 4.5 tons. Even adding the deployment system, I'd wager that's less than an ISS-bound Dragon, and they did RTLS on CRS-9 and CRS-10.
Not only the mass is twice as much, but also the target orbit requires even more energy for other reasons. The southerly launch heading and further from the equator, higher target orbit altitude and the job of circularizing is up to F9 2nd stage, each of those items increase effort to the Falcon launch system, but even then, I wouldn't be surprised if a Block V can RTLS, but a Block III might not.
In a ISS launch, Falcon leaves Dragon in a 200Kmx360Km orbit (Dragon raises the perigee). A Iridium launch targets a 625Kmx625Km orbit, all done by the Falcon 9.
I'm not entirely certain an RTLS is out of the question though.
« Last Edit: 04/03/2017 06:45 AM by macpacheco »
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Offline envy887

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Any expectation that the NROL-76 delay will trickle down to VAFB launches? As I understand the current holdup is LV availability which should be tracking through the same even if payloads are held up on the Eastern Range.
« Last Edit: 04/10/2017 04:52 PM by envy887 »

Offline gongora

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Space Intel Report: Maritime tracker exactEarth cuts costs, awaits Iridium fleet deployment [Apr. 11, 2017]
Quote
The company has two more payloads on larger satellites on the way...The eV-8 AIS payload is hosted aboard the Spanish government’s Paz radar Earth observation satellite...Spanish authorities recently announced that they had switched to a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and secured a late-2017 launch slot.

The major event for exactEarth, however, is its partnership with Harris Corp. of the United States, under which 60 AIS payloads will be launched aboard Iridium Communications’ Iridium Next second-generation constellation.

Four of the 10 first Iridium Next satellites launched in January by SpaceX carry AIS payloads for exactEarth. The company said April 6 that it expected them to enter service by the end of May.

A second Iridium 10-satellite launch by SpaceX is scheduled for June. Nine of these satellites carry AIS gear.

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Quote
Christian Daniels‏ @CJDaniels77

@IridiumBoss Are you still on course for the Iridium- 2 flight?
https://twitter.com/CJDaniels77/status/857220605405528065

Quote
Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss 9m9 minutes ago
Replying to @CJDaniels77

Yes, still on for June.
https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/857224072702427136

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Peter B. de Selding‏ @pbdes 5m5 minutes ago

@IridiumComm: Our 2d group of 10 2d-gen sats to launch June 29 w/ @SpaceX. @Intelsat: We expect late-June launch of IS-35e w/ @SpaceX.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/857564394749919237

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Here's the launch time:

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Matt Desch‏ @IridiumBoss 1m1 minute ago

Announced Iridium NEXT launch #2 date this morning: Thurs, June 29, 1:04pm pdt. Will start sending sats to VAFB soon. T minus 9 weeks!

https://twitter.com/IridiumBoss/status/857570216687128576

Offline deruch

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Peter B. de Selding‏ @pbdes 5m5 minutes ago

@IridiumComm: Our 2d group of 10 2d-gen sats to launch June 29 w/ @SpaceX. @Intelsat: We expect late-June launch of IS-35e w/ @SpaceX.

https://twitter.com/pbdes/status/857564394749919237
For those who will inevitably end up scratching their head trying to figure out how both Iridium-#2 and Intelsat-35e are going to be launching in "late-June", remember that Iridium is launching from Vandenberg AFB (in California) and Intelsat-35e from KSC (in Florida).  So, even if both launches are scheduled very close to each other, pad-turnaround won't be an issue.
In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  But, in practice, there is.  --Jan van de Snepscheut

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