Iridium Communications has completed key upgrades to its ground control infrastructure in preparation for its next-generation satellite constellation, which is expected to begin launching in 2015, the McLean, Virginia, company announced Aug. 27.

The upgrades included new software on its System Control Segment (SCS) and completion of the Launch and Early Operations (LEOP) control center for the 66-satellite Iridium Next constellation, the company said. 

The SCS upgrade featured new software provided by L-3 Telemetry-West of San Diego, while overall development was led by Boeing Defense, Space and Security of St. Louis, which operates the current Iridium constellation and will perform that same function for Iridium Next. The LEOP center, which controls the satellites during launch and on-orbit testing, is co-located with Iridium’s main mission control center in Leesburg, Virginia.

“With the SCS upgrade and completion of the LEOP control facility, we’ve passed two huge launch milestones and are now operationally ready for the launch of Iridium NEXT,” Scott Smith, Iridium’s chief operating officer, said in a prepared statement.

Iridium Next, which will provide a variety of mobile satellite services to users across the globe, is expected to be fully deployed by the end of 2017.

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Warren Ferster is the Editor-in-Chief of SpaceNews and is responsible for all the news and editorial coverage in the weekly newspaper, the Web site and variety of specialty publications such as show dailies. He manages a staff of seven reporters...