GILBERT, Ariz. -- A Virginia-based company announced Thursday it is manufacturing 81 new satellites at its Gilbert factory to help expand global mobile communications.
Orbital Sciences Technology held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to kick off the new satellite assembly line.
Approximately 40 employees will assemble, integrate and test the satellites over the course of the next two to three years.
The assembly line is expected to produce two to three satellites per month.
The satellites will replace an existing constellation that's been in place 16 years.
Once implemented, the technology will improve data speed and communication on land, at sea and in the sky, according to Iridium Chief Operating Officer Scott Smith. Iridium created the global mobile voice and data satellite communications network.
Gilbert Mayor John Lewis calls the production "the most significant commercial space project in the world."