Thales Alenia Space, a producer of satellite systems, awarded a contract to EMS Defense & Space, a provider of wireless connectivity solutions, for L-band communications hardware for low-earth orbiting, cross-linked satellites produced by a third company.
The third company is Iridium Communication Inc., and EMS will be providing the “fast switcher matrix” for the payload of Iridium’s NEXT, a second-generation satellite constellation of 81 satellites designed to expand Iridium’s capability to meet growing demand for global mobile communications, according to EMS.
Trevor Hiebert, vice president for North American sales and marketing for Thales Alenia Space, said EMS has “a fantastic reputation in the space industries,” and Thales is “more than pleased to have you (EMS) as one of our partners on the Iridium NEXT program.”
Marion Van Fosson, vice president & general manager, EMS Defense & Space announced the contract—valued at $20 million—during the Satellite 2011 conference in Washington, D.C. “Our (EMS’) focus is to enable mobile connectivity to anyone anywhere in the world through the convergence of both communications, navigations, storage, other applications,” he said.
EMS’ heritage with fast switch matrix systems, as well as the company’s ability to meet the demand of performance requirements, puts the company in a leading position to provide equipment on the satellite, according to Van Fosson. EMS also leverages its L to Q band to provide a number of line of sight, as well as line of sight data link products for the military systems for use in communications, both in combat and in controlling UAVs and extended ranges, he added.
Anticipated to begin launching in 2015, Iridium NEXT is expected to maintain the existing Iridium constellation architecture of 66 cross-linked satellite low-Earth orbiting covering the planet, according to the company. In addition, Iridium says it expects NEXT to drive innovation in rapidly expanding areas such as:
- Enterprise global voice and data connectivity.
- Asset tracking and other machine-to-machine applications.
- New data-centric applications.
- More power enabling new opportunities.
Donald Thoma, Iridium’s executive vice president for marketing, said, there is a lot of talk at Iridium about our company’s ecosystem. “It’s really our network of partners that take measure of Iridium’s capability, and supply components to it,” he said. “EMS is one of our longest standing partners,” he said, adding that in 2007, when Iridium announced it was going to build 66 plus satellites, there was a lot of skepticism. “There were a few real believers, and EMS was one of the companies that said, ‘They (Iridium) can do it.’ We’re proud that they’ve been selected as part of the next team,” Thoma said.