I still have the sight and unbelievable sound of the January 14th SpaceX launch etched into my memory. Twelve days after the delivery of 10 brand new Iridium NEXT satellites to low-earth-orbit, aimed at replacing the legacy “Block 1” satellites, Aireon was able to validate that the ADS-B payloads survived the launch. The initial operational tests conducted were planned to command the payloads power-on and verify that self-test parameters were successfully communicated through the on-board processor and space-to-earth communications link. Additional tests included commanding of redundant functions providing assurance that the payloads were healthy prior to the satellite being raised to mission orbit.
On January 26th, all systems were go for the tests and commanding and control of the payload was very successful…but wait there’s more! 150 ADS-B aircraft were detected over multiple-passes of the satellite with thousands of ADS-B messages received and decoded. This was an unexpected bonus for Aireon!
Overall, this does not represent the full-scale initial validation we will be conducting over the next month, however, it does represent some very positive results that demonstrate the robust design created by the incredible Iridium, Aireon and Harris teams.
More to come as we collect data and analyze the performance metrics, so stayed tuned for updates.
Authored by Vinny Capezzuto Aireon Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of Engineering