03 February 2017
| Alan Burkitt-Gray
Iridium – which put its first new satellites into orbit last month – has confirmed that all its further launches will be handled by SpaceX through to early next year.
10 Iridium satellites in January, beginning the replacement
of the original 20-year-old Motorola fleet, and will also
handle flights two to eight, the companies have announced. The
satellites will provide global data and voice communications
services to carriers, aviation, enterprises and government
Flights one to seven – from January 2017 to early 2018
– will complete the operating fleet of 70 satellites.
The eighth, a joint SpaceX flight with two other agencies, will
see five spare satellites put into orbit to give the system
"This is a very smart way to get additional Iridium Next
satellites into orbit," said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. "We are
pleased to be sharing a rocket with NASA and GFZ German
Research Centre for Geosciences for this additional SpaceX
launch, and GFZ has been a great business partner throughout
It means Iridium will get 75 satellites in service "for not
much more than we had planned originally to launch 72
satellites", said Desch. "This launch provides added resiliency
to our network."
Iridium said that its Iridium Next fleet will "re-energise the
mobile satellite industry with faster speeds and higher
throughputs for all industry verticals."