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Ten spacecraft have launched from California to complete the $3bn refurbishment of the original satellite phone system, Iridium.
A SpaceX Falcon rocket carried the platforms aloft. They will go live in the network in the coming weeks.
The original Iridium constellation was put up in the late 90s to link calls to any location on the planet.
This function will continue, but the new satellites carry some add-ons to support additional services.
One is monitoring technology to surveil the movements of planes.
The UK’s air traffic management company, NATS, and its Canadian equivalent, NAV CANADA, plan to use the new capability to transform the routing of aircraft across the North Atlantic.