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March 17, 2011

EMS Technologies to Provide L-band Communications Hardware for Iridium NEXT

By Rajani Baburajan, TMCnet Contributor

EMS Technologies, a global connectivity provider, announced its Defense & Space division will offer cost-effective L-band communications hardware for Iridium (News - Alert) NEXT, Iridium Communications’ constellation of low-earth orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites.

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EMS won the contract from Thales (News - Alert) Alenia Space, the satellite prime contractor, to offer the fast switch matrix (FSM) for the Iridium NEXT payload.

“We are pleased to have the confidence and trust of Thales Alenia Space,” said Neil Mackay (News - Alert), president and CEO of EMS Technologies, in a statement. “It is evidence of our continued strength in airborne and space technologies and it also complements our strategic initiative to pursue higher volume, more commercial-oriented opportunities within our Defense & Space business.”

The Iridium NEXT launch is expected to begin in 2015. Iridium NEXT will support L-band data speeds of 1.5 Mbps or 11 times faster than the current network. It will have a global coverage including regions not served by geostationary satellites and a capacity of up to 3 million subscribers.

“Iridium has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with EMS as a technology partner and reseller of Iridium to its aviation customers. We’re pleased to extend that relationship with their selection by Thales Alenia Space as the FSM supplier for our next-generation satellites,” said Matt Desch (News - Alert), CEO, Iridium.

“We value their innovative approaches and look forward to their continued collaborative efforts toward new and exciting applications around our network, both today, and with Iridium NEXT,” Desch added.

Several factors worked in favor of EMS for the company to win the business. Besides the fast switch matrix systems from EMS, the ability to address the demands of performance requirements put the company in a position to offer equipment on the satellite, company officials said.

Additionally, EMS’s approach to manufacturing the FSM improves upon the previous constellation and will support Iridium’s hardware delivery schedules to meet its launch timetable.

Recently, EMS announced it received a contract from Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC (News - Alert)) to provide an X-band SATCOM antenna system for the RC-12 aircraft, the U.S. military version of the Super King Air 200.


Rajani Baburajan is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Rajani's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Janice McDuffee