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The Surveillance Broadcast Services (SBS) Article 48 work group, including NATCA SBS representatives, had a unique opportunity to tour the Orbital Sciences, Iridium, and Space‐X facilities directly involved in the development, testing, and implementation of the Aireon Space-Based Automatic Dependent Surveillance‐Broadcast (ADS-B) network.
Scheduled for completion in 2018, the Iridium NEXT network will include 11 satellites plus one in-orbit spare satellite in each of the six orbital planes in which satellites operate. Additionally, nine spare ground satellites will be available for use, bringing the total number of satellites in production to 81. Each Iridium satellite will be equipped with an Aireon Space-Based ADS‐B hosted payload. The Iridium NEXT satellite system will replace the current Iridium satellite system in orbit. The current Iridium satellites — which have far exceeded expectations — were launched between 1998 and 2002 and were designed for a seven‐year life cycle.