SMC Eyes Iridium Next for Hosting Weather Sensors

by

The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) is exploring the possibility of placing space and terrestrial weather sensors on Iridium Communications’ second-generation satellite constellation, SMC Commander Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski said April 18.

SMC’s hosted payload office is working with its Weather Directorate and Orbital Sciences Corp. to determine the project’s feasibility, Pawlikowski said. Orbital is responsible for final integration of the 72 Iridium Next satellites at its Arizona facility and has purchased the rights to sell space aboard the craft for hosted payloads.

Hosted payloads for space weather are a “strong area of concentration” for SMC, Pawlikowski said. SMC is also considering international opportunities for hosted weather payloads, she said.

Iridium plans to start launching its Iridium Next satellites, being built by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, around 2015. The satellites also likely will carry an air-traffic monitoring capability, Iridium has said.