Iridium Unveils First Turnkey Hosted Payload Program, Iridium PRIME

Iridium PRIME

Iridium PRIME
Image credit: Iridium

[Via Satellite 09-09-13] Iridium Communications has unveiled its first turnkey hosted payload solution, Iridium PRIME, to host third-party payloads on stand-alone satellites leveraging the global connectivity afforded by the Iridium NEXT satellite network. The Iridium PRIME program takes a new approach at the hosted payload business model with an integrated service that reduces the complexity, delays and costs typically associated with building, launching and operating a satellite mission.

With a growing demand for additional hosted payload opportunities and the opportunity to leverage the investment and learning costs from Iridium NEXT, Iridium will offer commercial and government payload customers a turnkey solution for all elements of a successful hosted payload mission including launch, ground infrastructure, two-way payload control, high-speed inter-satellite links and global coverage. Iridium PRIME offsets the traditional challenges of hosted payload missions such as inflexible launch schedules, “one-off” mission control systems and ground connectivity challenges by providing customers access to a proven end-to-end satellite constellation with complete flexibility on the number of payloads they deploy, number of planes they occupy, and independent mission control with a cost savings of 50 percent or more compared to current stand-alone solutions, according to the company.

While the Iridium NEXT hosted payload space is now fully allocated to two entities – Aireon LLC for its space-based aircraft surveillance application and Harris Corporation for additional auxiliary payloads – Iridium PRIME customers can use a whole satellite’s payload capacity, or just share that capacity with other applications and customers that Iridium brings together. Potential missions include Earth observation, terrethomstrial and space-based weather monitoring, communications support including advanced broadband services, Automatic Identification System (AIS) tracking and other government missions. Iridium PRIME also promises to provide flexible scheduling to launch whenever payloads are ready, starting as early as fourth quarter 2017, allowing customers longer lead times for budgeting their hosted payload missions.

Iridium will build, launch and fly up to 66 additional Iridium PRIME hosted payload satellites using the Iridium constellation infrastructure and operations. Iridium PRIME satellites can use Iridium’s inter-satellite links and global ground systems to provide two-way control and data delivery from diverse hosted payloads. The Iridium PRIME bus will be derived from the Iridium NEXT satellite design, removing L-Band communications equipment unnecessary for this use, and expanding the volume, weight, power and data capacity of the satellite vehicle to support a wider variety of payloads for potential customers.

Thales Alenia Space is leading the design and construction of the satellites for the Iridium NEXT constellation and will partner with Iridium to provide and produce a new satellite bus for Iridium PRIME, maintaining the inter-satellite crosslink functionality and the ability to fly within the NEXT constellation. Additionally the companies will work together to develop a Hosted Payload Controller for the Iridium PRIME bus to ensure independence and diversity of missions on PRIME satellites. Customers with compatible missions will be able to share the platform-minimizing costs and leverage the company’s investment in Iridium NEXT.

Col. David A. Anhalt (USAF Ret.) has been appointed as vice president and general manager of Iridium PRIME. Prior to his position at Iridium, he was the initial vice chairman of the Hosted Payload Alliance and is its current secretary. Following a distinguished career in the U.S. Air Force, he held several senior management roles at Orbital Sciences and Space Systems/Loral including the conception and architecture of the Commercial Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP). He will be involved in business development for Iridium PRIME focusing on customer acquisition and technology partnerships.

Read our exclusive interview with Iridium’s CEO Matt Desch about Iridium PRIME.

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