On March 28th 2019, Iridium announced that their new southern hemisphere ground station was brought online in the south of Chile. This new site is a significant breakthrough and improvement for the network, as it marks the first southern hemisphere station to be introduced. This location strengthens Iridium’s already renowned space and ground network by increasing their ability to maintain and manage traffic, capacity and availability rates.
This particular site was built in partnership with Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) of Norway, who have long been a close partner with Iridium, working closely to improve and support celestial-to-terrestrial connectivity.
Thanks to Iridium’s status as the only satellite provider who can boast having a low-earth orbit commercial network to use intersatellite cross-links, satellite traffic can now be transferred in real-time via the most practical and efficient route, further enhanced by the new Punta Arenas site. These cross-links enable all data to be moved from satellite to satellite and finally down to various ground gateways automatically, with minimal delay. This ensures that Iridium remains the worlds first, and only, truly global network that allows users to communicate from any location including the north and south poles, and everywhere in between.
Though technically, Iridium can maintain all traffic simultaneously through a single gateway, they have always maintained multiple ground stations located throughout the northern hemisphere. With this new station in Chile, they have now increased visibility to their satellites as they pass through their southern hemispheric orbits, as well as further geographic diversity to further improve overall network resilience.
This site joins the existing stations in Alaska, Svalbard, and Arizona. Thanks to Iridium’s web-like coverage of the globe, achieved through 11 satellites for each of the six orbital planes, this architectural design ensures all corners of the globe have satellites in view at all times, minimising the need for local infrastructure or ground stations. Having multiple stations ensures that, should a station fail, there are four others to pick up the traffic to guarantee its timely and successful delivery.
If you’d like to read more about Iridium’s new station, as well as their revolutionary new upgrade, Iridium NEXT, and what this means for existing users, then visit their website here.