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February 7th, 2019
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Iridium Successfully Launches NEXT Generation Satellites

Over the last two years, the Iridium network—used by Garmin inReach satellite communication devices—has been quietly undergoing a $3 billion upgrade of its global satellite telecommunications network, called Iridium NEXT.

Iridium is best known to sledders as the network used by their Garmin two-way and SOS satellite communications devices.

However, the Iridium NEXT network will go far beyond, providing global broadband connectivity, highly mobile internet access and an advanced aircraft surveillance system for air traffic controllers and airlines amongst other new technology.

Garmin inReach Devices Service Upgraded with Next Generation Satellite Technology

On January 11, 2019, the final ten Iridium NEXT satellites were successfully launched into low orbit by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The company reports that all ten satellites successfully communicated with the new system, which is comprised of 75 next generation satellites in orbit. Of these, 66 will be operational and nine will serve as spares, with an additional six backups on the ground. The entire constellation required eight launches by SpaceX.

Garmin inReach Iridium NEXT

During a press conference on February 6, 2019, the company announced activation of the final two Iridium NEXT satellites, bringing all 66 operational satellites online and marking the completion of the ambitious project.

Garmin inReach users will immediately be serviced by the new global network. According to Roadpost—the company that manages the service plans of Garmin inReach users in Canada—some users have already reported quicker message transmission on the Iridium NEXT constellation.

 

– MS