Iridium Swaps to Flight-Proven Rocket for December Launch

SpaceX's Falcon 9 launches the third set of Iridium Next satellites into orbit on Oct. 9. Photo: SpaceX.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launches the third set of Iridium Next satellites into orbit on Oct. 9. Photo: SpaceX.

Iridium has reached an agreement with SpaceX to use flight-proven first stages for its next two satellite launches. The company announced it confirmed with its insurers that there is no increase in premium for the launch contract, reflecting Iridium’s conclusion that the risk profile is unchanged.

“I believe that reusability is the future for satellite launches, and I think SpaceX has intelligently built their Falcon 9 program around this strategy,” said Iridium Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matt Desch. “With three successful flight-proven Falcon 9 launches already this year, we’re excited to show leadership toward the sustainable access to space, while also making sure we maintain our cadence to complete the five remaining Iridium Next launches by the middle of next year.”

SpaceX is targeting Dec. 22 at 5:26 p.m. PST for the next launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, to deliver an additional 10 Iridium Next satellites to orbit. The launch signifies the mid-way point of Iridium’s launch program and brings the total number of satellites deployed to 40.

The satellites currently on orbit are undergoing testing for Iridium Certus, the company’s next-generation L-band broadband service.

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