SpaceX on Saturday successfully launched its Falcon 9 rocket which will deliver 10 Iridium satellites to low-Earth orbit for mobile voice and data satellite communications.
The 10 satellites are the first of at least 70 satellites that SpaceX will be launching for Iridium’s next generation global satellite constellation, Iridium NEXT.
Six more launches are planned between now and 2018 with the satellites eventually covering 100 per cent of the planet.
The satellites' space-based automatic dependent surveillance broadcast (ADS-B) receivers will re-transmit in real-time to ground stations the exact position of every aircraft equipped with the GlobalBeacon embedded system.
With the disappearance of Flight MH370 still in the news, the Iridium satellites are expected to track aircraft in real-time and prevent a repeat scenario.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has introduced real-time tracking of aircraft with mandatory monitoring every 15 minutes in 2018, increasing to every minute in emergency in 2021.