Aerojet Rocketdyne Hails Successful Completion of Iridium® NEXT Deployment

  • Satellites reached final orbits using Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion
  • Constellation will improve global mobile communications service
  • Aerojet Rocketdyne propulsion systems being used to de-orbit original Iridium satellites

REDMOND, Wash., Feb. 5 2019 – Aerojet Rocketdyne played a critical role in the recent successful completion of Iridium Communications Inc.’s second-generation communications satellite constellation.

“Putting up 75 satellites in less than two years without a hitch is no small accomplishment and testifies to the vision, skill and dedication of Aerojet Rocketdyne and the Iridium team,” said Aerojet Rocketdyne CEO and President Eileen Drake. “The total number of Aerojet Rocketdyne thrusters flown on Iridium and Iridium NEXT satellites now exceeds 1,400.”

The Iridium NEXT satellites, all developed under Thales Alenia Space prime contractorship, were launched in groups of up to 10 aboard eight rockets, and then used onboard propulsion systems supplied by Aerojet Rocketdyne to reach their final operating orbits. The launches took place over a two-year period, beginning Jan. 14, 2017 and ending Jan. 11, 2019.

Consisting of 66 operational satellites and nine orbital spares, the Iridium NEXT constellation will provide improved mobile voice and data communications services across the globe. Iridium’s customers include Internet of Things, or IoT users, the U.S. military, the aviation and maritime industries, resource companies, search and rescue organizations, and more.

The satellites, operating in six orbital planes, are each equipped with nine Aerojet Rocketdyne MR-103G hydrazine thrusters. These thrusters, each providing 1 newton, or about .2 pounds of thrust, enable in-orbit maneuvers, including positioning and adjustment, relocation, attitude control and end-of-life de-orbiting.

The MR-103G is a variant of a long-running and versatile line of spacecraft onboard thrusters, with more than 4,000 thrusters delivered and flown over the past 30 years. These thrusters have flown aboard satellites in different Earth orbits, including geostationary, as well as on probes to Mars and other deep space destinations.

Aerojet Rocketdyne also supplied the on-orbit and de-orbit propulsion systems for the original Iridium satellite constellation, which was launched between 1997 and 2002.

About Aerojet Rocketdyne:
Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), is a world-recognized aerospace and defense leader that provides propulsion systems and energetics to the space, missile defense and strategic systems, and tactical systems areas, in support of domestic and international customers. For more information, visit www.Rocket.com and www.AerojetRocketdyne.com. Follow Aerojet Rocketdyne and CEO Eileen Drake on Twitter at @AerojetRdyne and @DrakeEileen.