Iridium Next Continues to Change the Satellite Industry



Thales Group - Iridium_Montage

Iridium Next is well on its way to achieving its goal of launching 75 satellites by mid-2018 with the latest launch of 10 satellites.  This program has been helped change the satellite industry with lower than normal radiation requirements in exchange for deep discounts with some of the largest volumes procured for space applications.  Suppliers have developed new lines of products in response to this constellation and others like it.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)


Third batch of 10 satellites built by Thales Alenia Space ready to begin on-orbit testing in preparation to join the constellation
Cannes, 9 Octobre, 2017 – The third batch of Iridium® NEXT satellites built by Thales Alenia Space has been successfully launched by SpaceX from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After the perfect commissioning of the first 20 satellites launched in January and June, thirteen of which are now interconnected and operating in full compatibility with the initial Block One Constellation, with seven being maneuvered to an adjacent plane, this new milestone allows to continue the fantastic Iridium® NEXT adventure.Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor for the Iridium® NEXT program, in charge of engineering, integration, operations and in-orbit validation of the 81 satellites and the overall system. The first 20 satellites showed that Iridium® NEXT is perfectly compatible with the existing system. The satellites are integrated in series by Thales Alenia Space’s subcontractor Orbital ATK, at its Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Arizona under the supervision of a dedicated local Thales Alenia Space team. Launch and Early Operations (LEOP) and In Orbit Tests are performed by Thales Alenia Space from the Iridium Control Center at Leesburg (Va).

“I am very pleased to see that the overall performances provided by the first 20 satellites are exceeding Iridium’s expectations. This is a significant reward for all the teams who have worked hard for years on this program. In addition to being a real feat of technological prowess, Iridium® NEXT, by integrating with the Iridium Block 1 constellation to provide global coverage without requiring local ground infrastructure, has recently proved its efficiency under the tragic circumstances in Puerto Rico, where 88 percent of the island’s cell phone network fell down due to the hurricane,” declared Denis Allard, Iridium® NEXT Vice President for Thales Alenia Space. He added: “In addition to this third launch, the production of 23 additional satellites has now been completed. We have also started integration of the 64th satellite. Everything is on track to meet our objective, namely to launch all 75 Iridium® NEXT orbital satellites by mid-2018”.

The Iridium® NEXT constellation will offer global connectivity thanks to 66 interconnected satellites at an altitude of 780 km, along with nine spares in parking orbits and six more spare satellites on the ground. This international system provides unrivaled capability for communications on the move (individuals, land vehicles, aircraft, ships), and ensures full global coverage, including the oceans.

Artistic view: © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
Photos: © SpaceX

About Thales Alenia Space
Combining 40 years of experience and  a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, Thales Alenia Space architects design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures.  Governments, institutions and companies rely on Thales Alenia Space to design, operate and deliver satellite-based systems that help them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere, help observe our planet, help optimize the use of our planet’s – and our solar system’s – resources. Thales Alenia Space believes in space as humankind’s new horizon, which will enable to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of about 2.4 billion euros in 2016 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.

Thales Alenia Space – Press Contacts:

Sandrine Bielecki
Phone: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

Chrystelle Dugimont
Phone: +33 (0)4 92 92 74 06

Cinzia Marcanio
Tel: +39 06 41512685

October 9, 2017 |

U.S. Reestablishes National Space Council



It is always great to see interest in Space programs.  Whether it is new products or services from the various suppliers around the world, Space Agencies investing in new programs, deep space endeavors, new countries entering the market, or new initiatives like SmallSats.  It is very important to the US Space industry to see a renewed interest from the current administration reestablishing the National Space Council.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

NASA Provides Coverage for First Meeting of the National Space Council

NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of the first meeting of the National Space Council starting at 10 a.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 5.

The meeting, titled “Leading the Next Frontier: An Event with the National Space Council,” will be held at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia. It will be chaired by Vice President Mike Pence and include participation by acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot, as well as a number of Trump Administration cabinet members and senior officials, and aerospace industry leaders.

“We expect to come out of this meeting with a reinvigorated focus for America’s space exploration goals that engages all the innovation of NASA and our partners, moves us toward national priorities, and excites people around the world,” said Lightfoot.

The council will hear testimonial from expert witnesses who represent the sectors of the space industry: Civil Space, Commercial Space, and National Security Space. President Trump signed an executive order reestablishing the National Space Council on June 30.

October 4, 2017 |

Vice President Pence Visits NASA

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, and Vice President Mike Pence talk with Expedition 53 crew members Joe Acaba, Randy Bresnik and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, who currently are working and living aboard the International Space Station, from the Payload Operations Integration Center at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Monday, Sept. 25, 2017.
The U.S. Space program has gone through many cuts over the years including the Space Shuttle.  A visit by Vice President Mike Pence hopefully is a great indication of a bright future.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)
Sept. 25, 2017
RELEASE 17-080

Vice President Pence Visits NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

Vice President Mike Pence tours Marshall Space Flight Center
Vice President Mike Pence, second from left, is given an overview on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017, of NASA’s Space Launch System structural test stand at the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, by Center Director Todd May, right, as Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., looks on. The Vice President visited the space center to view test hardware for NASA’s Space Launch System, America’s new deep space rocket and to call the crew aboard the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Makes First White House-level Call to Space Station Crew from Center

Vice President Mike Pence offered his thanks Monday to employees working on NASA’s human spaceflight programs during a tour of the agency’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Vice President saw the progress being made on NASA’s Space Launch System(SLS), the world’s most powerful deep space rocket, that will send astronauts on missions around the Moon and ultimately to Mars. He also visited Marshall’s Payload Operations Integration Center, where the agency manages all research aboard the International Space Station.

“Today, I met pioneers who are helping America travel into the unknown and expand our knowledge for the benefit of the nation,” said Vice President Pence. “I’m inspired by the people at Marshall, and NASA as a whole, who are passionate and dedicated to space exploration. The massive hardware and innovative technologies we are building will propel us far beyond our home planet and allow America to lead in space again.”

From Marshall’s science command center, Vice President Pence called the NASA astronauts aboard the space station and spoke with Expedition 53 commander Randy Bresnik, and flight engineers Mark Vande Hei and Joe Acaba. This is the first White House-level call to the International Space Station from Marshall. He also met with the ground controllers that provide around-the-clock support of the crew’s scientific activities on the orbiting laboratory, paving the way for future deep space exploration missions.

“The work underway today at Marshall, supporting station science and with SLS, is integral to ensuring this nation’s incredible global leadership in human exploration,” said acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot. “Vice President Pence now has personally visited three NASA centers in the last four months, and I deeply appreciate the Vice President’s strong commitment to our space exploration mission.”

The Vice President toured the SLS engineering facility where the engine section of the rocket’s massive core stage is undergoing a major stress test. The rocket’s four RS-25 engines and the two solid rocket boosters that attach to the SLS engine section will produce more than 8 million pounds of thrust to launch the Orion spacecraft beyond low-Earth orbit. More than 3,000 measurements using sensors installed on the test section will help ensure the core stage for all SLS missions can withstand the extreme forces of flight.

“The work we are doing today is paving the way for a new generation of astronauts to travel farther into space than humans have ever ventured before,” said Marshall Center Director Todd May, who hosted the visit. “This next chapter in the story of our national space program is being written by the men and women of Marshall, who keep us on the leading edge of spaceflight and truly make this the Rocket City.”

The Vice President concluded his visit with a tour of U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center for briefs from Army leaders on current missile defense projects and Army initiatives. Redstone Arsenal, where Marshall is located, is an Army installation with a workforce of around 41,000 active duty military, government civilians, and contractors. The arsenal is a federal center of excellence hosting components of more than 70 government organizations, including NASA, Department of Defense, Missile Defense Agency, FBI, and Department of Justice.

For more information about NASA’s missions and activities, including video and images of Vice President Pence’s tour of the Marshall Space Flight Center, visit:


Jen Rae Wang
Headquarters, Washington

Kim Newton
Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala.

Last Updated: Sept. 26, 2017
Editor: Karen Northon
September 26, 2017 |

Europe’s Newest Launcher



Space investments continue to mount around the world.  Europe’s new vehicle provides yet another milestone in our space legacy.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

You can find this article and others on ESA’s website here.

Four of the latest set of Galileo navigation satellites will be launched on Ariane 6 rockets – ESA’s first contract to use Europe’s new vehicle.

The launches are scheduled between the end of 2020 and mid-2021, using two Ariane 62 rockets – the configuration of Europe’s next-generation launch vehicle that is best suited to haul the two 750 kg navigation satellites into their orbits at 23 222 km altitude.

Under development, Ariane 6 is Europe’s newest launcher, designed to extend guaranteed access to space for Europe at a competitive price. It will operate in two configurations, depending on customer needs: Ariane 62 is fitted with two strap-on boosters while Ariane 64 has four.

“Ariane 6 is not only in full development, but it will soon be put to use,” notes Daniel Neuenschwander, ESA’s Director of Space Transportation. “This contract is a key step in the upcoming ramp-up phase of Ariane 6.”

The Galileos have so far either been launched in pairs by Soyuz from French Guiana or in fours by Ariane 5.

A new Ariane 5 flight is scheduled for the end of this year, to add four more satellites to the 18-strong constellation already in orbit. This month saw the arrival of the first elements of the rocket in French Guiana, transported aboard the MN Colibri roll-on/roll-off ship.

The contract specifies the decision to use Ariane 62 is subject to the vehicle’s development schedule, with Soyuz available as an alternative. A final choice will be made at the end of 2018, two years before the first launch.

Galileo is Europe’s own satellite navigation system, providing an array of positioning, navigation and timing services to Europe and the world.

A further eight Galileo ‘Batch 3’ satellites were ordered last June, to supplement the 26 built so far.

Galileo satellites

With 18 satellites now in orbit, Galileo began initial services on 15 December 2016, the first step towards full operations.

Further launches will continue to build the constellation, which will gradually improve system performance and availability worldwide.

The launch contract with Arianespace was signed by Paul Verhoef, ESA’s Director of the Galileo Programme and Navigation-related Activities, and Stéphane Israel, Arianespace’s Chief Executive Officer. ESA signed the contract on behalf of the EU represented by the European Commission – Galileo’s owner. The Commission and ESA have a delegation agreement by which ESA acts as design and procurement agent on behalf of the Commission.

September 18, 2017 |

Boeing Satellite Most Advanced Digital Payload

The O3b mPOWER satellites will include Boeing’s most-advanced digital payload technology and will be built using electronics from the flight-proven 702 satellite platform customized to support the unique MEO environment.

Boeing has provided advanced satellites for the Space Industry for many decades.  The latest medium earth orbit satellite for SES will deliver a new direction for the industry.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)

Boeing to Design and Build Seven Medium Earth Orbit Satellites for SES

The satellites will carry Boeing’s most-advanced digital payload applicable to all orbits.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Sept. 11, 2017 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] will design and build seven super-powered medium earth orbit (MEO) satellites for SES, delivering efficient high-performance data communications services to users around the world.

The O3b mPOWER satellites will include Boeing’s most-advanced digital payload technology and will be built using electronics from the flight-proven 702 satellite platform customized to support the unique MEO environment.

“With this new technology and design, Boeing is able to build satellites faster and more cost-effectively while still providing the high performance our customers have come to expect from Boeing digital satellites,” said Paul Rusnock, chairman and CEO, Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc. “This latest digital payload design has an unprecedented level of technology integration, built-in test capability and is modular and scalable for all orbits.”

“The SES O3b mPOWER system opens a new era of connectivity, fundamentally transforming the role and capabilities of satellites,” said Karim Michel Sabbagh, president and CEO at SES. “O3b mPOWER is a unique system with exponentially more power, performance and flexibility, which sets the technology at the highest level, offering a visionary roadmap for next generation technology.”

The satellites are designed to be launched up to four at a time in a stacked configuration, depending on the selected launch vehicle.

Starting in the 1990s, Boeing has built 12 satellites for SES. The latest, SES-15, was launched earlier this year.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

# # #


Joanna Climer
Space and Missile Systems
Office: +1 310-364-7113
Mobile: +1 310-227-3534

September 11, 2017 |

Hurricane Harvey and the Satellite Industry



We often forget all of the applications of the satellite industry.  The predictions of Hurricane Harvey is largely a result of the industry.  (Editor – EPIQ Space)
Find this article and others on ESA’s website here.


  • Released 05/09/2017 11:13 am
  • Copyright NASA
  • DescriptionAlthough the pictures of the devastation of Hurricane Harvey on Earth leave little to the imagination, seeing it from space confirms the enormous power the hurricane had. Taken by NASA astronaut Randy Bresnik from the International Space Station orbiting Earth at 400 km altitude, Randy commented, “The destructive power beneath the clouds of Hurricane Harvey ruins any thought of the beauty of the cloud formations from above”.

    The hurricane hit mainland USA and caused flooding and damage affecting hundreds of thousands of people. The city of Houston was hit with much of its force including NASA’s Johnson Space Center, the main site for astronauts and the International Space Station. Mission control in Houston remained operational despite the centre being closed from August 28 until today – flight controllers slept on site in makeshift beds as entrance to the facility was difficult due to floods.

    After record rainfall for five days, the storm passed, leaving many people without homes, water or electricity. ESA has many staff members working at Johnson Space Center including ESA astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andreas Mogensen. People in Houston are now working to rebuild damaged property.

    Among the many consequences of the hurricane, was the delay of the departure of NASA’s G5 plane from Houston to collect NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Jack Fischer from their landing site after their mission on the International Space Station. An ESA plane was sent to retrieve the two astronauts in Karaganda, Kazakhstan, and brought them back to Cologne, home of ESA’s astronaut centre for a stopover before continuing to USA.

    ESA’s Director General Jan Woerner said, “Spaceflight is a global endeavour and partnerships created by the International Space Station extend beyond space back to Earth. Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by Harvey, our American colleagues and their friends and families.”

September 6, 2017 |

Eclipse Image from NASA


Image of the Moon transiting across the Sun, taken by SDO in 171 angstrom extreme ultraviolet light on Aug. 21, 2017.

Credit: NASA/SDO

Last Updated: Aug. 21, 2017
Editor: Rob Garner
The Solar Eclipse created a tremendous amount of excitement and entertainment across the US today.  Images continue to emerge from across the country.  The attached image was taken by SDO.
While it may have been difficult to obtain decent images with a standard camera or view it with special glasses, the attached image captures the spectacular moment.
Editor – EPIQ Space
August 21, 2017 |

Additec CEO Discusses Unique Additive Technology Solution



EPIQ Space interviews Brian Matthews, CEO and President of Additec at Space Tech Expo in Pasadena California.  Additec has a unique additive technology solution and Brian discusses their ability to build affordable larger systems.

The industry has been developing additive technology solutions.   Additec is leading the way with innovative solutions to meet the needs of complex devices.

Editor EPIQ Space


August 7, 2017 |

Alicia Monroy Introduces High Data Rate Fischer Products



EPIQ Space had the opportunity to meet with Alicia Monroy at Space Tech Expo in Pasadena California.  Alicia introduced a unique series of connectors  that achieve higher data rates which are smaller and lighter than traditional connector solutions.

Innovative customers are using miniature high density connectors with power and signal options.  Even though the connector are very small, they are very rugged.  These reliable connectors are very low profile with unique features for routing wires.

Editor:  EPIQ Space




August 2, 2017 |

NASA’s Voyager Spacecraft Incredible 40-Year Milestone

An artist concept depicting one of the twin Voyager spacecraft.
An artist concept depicting one of the twin Voyager spacecraft. Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft are celebrating 40 years in August and September 2017.
Credits: NASA

The idea of any spacecraft lasting 40 years is astonishing, but even more so when you consider the years in which it was built.  We have not only learned more about the environments in space over the past 40 years, but more importantly, we have learned how to develop products that will survive the harsh environments.  There seems to be a push to reduce the standards associated with many space programs.  It is programs like the Voyager that reminds us of the benefits we can obtain for both science as well as business when programs have a longer life.

The article below from NASA is a great reminder of the many quiet successes the satellite industry has delivered over many decades.

This article and others can be found on NASA’s website here.


NASA’s Voyager Spacecraft Still Reaching for the Stars After 40 Years

Humanity’s farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September. Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier.

Their story has not only impacted generations of current and future scientists and engineers, but also Earth’s culture, including film, art and music. Each spacecraft carries a Golden Record of Earth sounds, pictures and messages. Since the spacecraft could last billions of years, these circular time capsules could one day be the only traces of human civilization.

“I believe that few missions can ever match the achievements of the Voyager spacecraft during their four decades of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. “They have educated us to the unknown wonders of the universe and truly inspired humanity to continue to explore our solar system and beyond.”

The Voyagers have set numerous records in their unparalleled journeys. In 2012, Voyager 1, which launched on Sept. 5, 1977, became the only spacecraft to have entered interstellar space. Voyager 2, launched on Aug. 20, 1977, is the only spacecraft to have flown by all four outer planets – Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Their numerous planetary encounters include discovering the first active volcanoes beyond Earth, on Jupiter’s moon Io; hints of a subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa; the most Earth-like atmosphere in the solar system, on Saturn’s moon Titan; the jumbled-up, icy moon Miranda at Uranus; and icy-cold geysers on Neptune’s moon Triton.

Though the spacecraft have left the planets far behind – and neither will come remotely close to another star for 40,000 years – the two probes still send back observations about conditions where our Sun’s influence diminishes and interstellar space begins.

Voyager 1, now almost 13 billion miles from Earth, travels through interstellar space northward out of the plane of the planets. The probe has informed researchers that cosmic rays, atomic nuclei accelerated to nearly the speed of light, are as much as four times more abundant in interstellar space than in the vicinity of Earth. This means the heliosphere, the bubble-like volume containing our solar system’s planets and solar wind, effectively acts as a radiation shield for the planets. Voyager 1 also hinted that the magnetic field of the local interstellar medium is wrapped around the heliosphere.

Voyager 2, now almost 11 billion miles from Earth, travels south and is expected to enter interstellar space in the next few years. The different locations of the two Voyagers allow scientists to compare right now two regions of space where the heliosphere interacts with the surrounding interstellar medium using instruments that measure charged particles, magnetic fields, low-frequency radio waves and solar wind plasma. Once Voyager 2 crosses into the interstellar medium, they will also be able to sample the medium from two different locations simultaneously.

“None of us knew, when we launched 40 years ago, that anything would still be working, and continuing on this pioneering journey,” said Ed Stone, Voyager project scientist based at Caltech in Pasadena, California. “The most exciting thing they find in the next five years is likely to be something that we didn’t know was out there to be discovered.”

The twin Voyagers have been cosmic overachievers, thanks to the foresight of mission designers. By preparing for the radiation environment at Jupiter, the harshest of all planets in our solar system, the spacecraft were well equipped for their subsequent journeys. Both Voyagers are equipped with long-lasting power supplies, as well as redundant systems that allow the spacecraft to switch to backup systems autonomously when necessary. Each Voyager carries three radioisotope thermoelectric generators, devices that use the heat energy generated from the decay of plutonium-238 – only half of it will be gone after 88 years.

Space is almost empty, so the Voyagers are not at a significant level of risk of bombardment by large objects. However, Voyager 1’s interstellar space environment is not a complete void. It’s filled with clouds of dilute material remaining from stars that exploded as supernovae millions of years ago. This material doesn’t pose a danger to the spacecraft, but is a key part of the environment that the Voyager mission is helping scientists study and characterize.

Because the Voyagers’ power decreases by four watts per year, engineers are learning how to operate the spacecraft under ever-tighter power constraints. And to maximize the Voyagers’ lifespans, they also have to consult documents written decade’s earlier describing commands and software, in addition to the expertise of former Voyager engineers.

“The technology is many generations old, and it takes someone with 1970s design experience to understand how the spacecraft operate and what updates can be made to permit them to continue operating today and into the future,” said Suzanne Dodd, Voyager project manager based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

Team members estimate they will have to turn off the last science instrument by 2030. However, even after the spacecraft go silent, they’ll continue on their trajectories at their present speed of more than 30,000 mph (48,280 kilometers per hour), completing an orbit within the Milky Way every 225 million years.

The Voyager spacecraft were built by JPL, which continues to operate both. The Voyager missions are part of the NASA Heliophysics System Observatory, sponsored by the Heliophysics Division of SMD.

For more information about the Voyager spacecraft, visit:



Dwayne Brown / Laurie Cantillo
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1726 / 202-358-1077 /

Elizabeth Landau / Jia-Rui Cook
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-6425 / 818-354-0724 /

July 31, 2017 |
Epiq Space

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