Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) will provide 81 ADS-B 1090 Extended Squitter (ES) receiver payloads to Aireon LLC, to be hosted on the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation under a five-year contract that will ultimately transform air traffic management (ATM) with a global satellite-based aircraft tracking system. Iridium NEXT is the next-generation satellite constellation planned to start launching in 2015 by Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM). Aireon is a planned joint venture between Iridium and NAV CANADA.
The Harris contract for 81 ADS-B payloads represents the largest implementation of a hosted payload solution to date and positions Harris as a leader in the hosted payload market.
ADS-B receiver payloads will be mounted on each Iridium NEXT satellite to operate independently and perform the air traffic surveillance function separately from the main mission of the spacecraft. ADS-B payload power will come from the main satellite bus and it will be designed to work with other sub-systems such as thermal management or communications systems. By sharing Iridium’s on-orbit capability and ground infrastructure, these commercially hosted payloads illustrate how to avoid the cost of building and launching separate satellite s – reducing the expense and time required to get mission capabilities into space for government and private organizations alike through a public-private partnership model.
Currently, the ground-based systems primarily use radar to provide aircraft surveillance. As part of the global ATM modernization, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NAV CANADA are implementing new Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) systems that requires all airplanes to be equipped with on-board ADS-B transmitters to broadcast GPS position and other useful data. However, ADS-B networks are limited by the ground-based ADS-B towers which collect this data for the ANSPs. The ground-based ATM infrastructure cannot monitor flights over oceans or remote regions of the globe where placing an ADS-B tower is not feasible.