Today's successful deployment of another five IRIDIUM system satellites from a Boeing [NYSE:BA] Delta II rocket brings the total of satellites to 51 in orbit.
The launch took place at 5:58 a.m. PST, within the five-second window necessary to place the five satellites into coordinated orbits with the 46 already in the constellation. This was Boeing's seventh mission for the IRIDIUM system.
"The precision required for placing satellites for the 66-satellite system into six low-Earth, polar orbital planes requires a five-second launch window," said Darryl Van Dorn, director of NASA and Commercial Programs.
"It has only been through the solid teamwork of Motorola, Iridium, U.S. Air Force, NASA and our Delta program that we have had seven successful missions within such tight launch windows."
Boeing developed the technology necessary to carry up to five satellites per launch. This technology is allowing Boeing to help Motorola and Iridium to meet their goal of providing global, wireless telecommunications by late this year.
Combined with land-based wireless systems, the IRIDIUM constellation of satellites will provide communications services from virtually any location on the surface of the Earth.
Boeing began the year with 18 launches on its manifest. Two of these missions are for the new Delta III which has an 8,400-pound payload roughly twice that of the Delta II.
IRIDIUM is a registered trademark and service mark of Iridium LLC copyright 1998
Photos of the launch will be available via the AP Wire