May 22, 2018 – Iridium Communications announced that SpaceX successfully launched five Iridium NEXT satellites from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Iridium satellites were joined by the twin spacecraft for the NASA/German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) mission, in a unique “rideshare” launch. Shortly after deployment, Iridium confirmed successful communication with all five new satellites, formally bringing the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit to 55. This leaves just two more launches of 10 satellites each to complete this ambitious launch program. The Iridium NEXT constellation, featuring 66 interconnected low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites, will enable never before possible services like the Aireon global aircraft tracking and surveillance system and its new broadband service, Iridium Certus.