Iridium Communications recently announced that SpaceX will launch the sixth batch of Iridium Next satellites in the coming days. These new Iridium Next satellites would bring the total number of these devices in space to 55.
The Iridium Next satellites are slowly but surely bringing wireless Internet to underserved areas. The satellite platform, known as Iridium Certus, is described as "With better coverage than any other mobile network and a wide range of speeds available, it will provide global, reliable business services while redefining the possibilities of mobile satellite communications."
Company data should be able to deliver satellite speeds from 22 Kbps to 1.4 Mbps once fully implemented. This is a pretty big difference in speed, but should be able to support processes ranging from low bandwidth data applications and e-mail to streaming HD video depending on accessibility.
The constellation of Iridium Next satellites now consists of a total of 66 satellites – divided into six polar orbits with 11 satellites in each plane. The five satellites placed in orbit with this upcoming launch are all part of the orbital plane six. So far we have seen five launches of Iridium Next satellites, each with 10 launches – with over half of the activated Iridium Next satellites.
Iridium has contracted with SpaceX to bring a total of 75 Iridium Next satellites with 66 into orbit operational and nine on-orbit squares. These satellites will only be brought through a series of eight launches.
As mentioned above, the launch of the Iridium Next satellite will be imminent, and the next satellite launch will be on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, scheduled for 1:04:24 pm PDT on May 19.
As we approach the launch of the new Iridium Next satellites, many are anticipating a more interconnected world than ever before. Although we are still a long way from providing constant Internet access to the whole world, as Elon Musk has to offer, this is another step in the right direction. Elon Musk has demonstrated incredible expertise at the forefront of SpaceX, and one of his goals is to provide access to underserved communities. If we can create a world of all who can be online and connected, we may see a more advanced and informed world. While private Internet access is unlikely ever to disappear – at least in the next few years – the ability to receive a basic high-speed connection without spending hundreds of dollars a month will be a welcome change for users who have and still have a budget Stay Connected
By extending the Internet to the entire world, we can see a community that is more collaborative and committed than ever. It remains to be seen if the technology contained in these Iridium Next satellites can be expanded on a global scale – potentially providing a future in which online walking is easier than ever.