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Iridium Officially Completes Iridium Next Constellation Upgrade

By Annamarie Nyirady | February 7, 2019
An Iridium Next satellite. Photo: Iridium

An Iridium Next satellite. Photo: Iridium

Iridium Communications revealed that it completed the $3 billion satellite constellation upgrade campaign known as Iridium Next, during a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. During the press conference, the company also introduced a new small-form-factor transceiver known as the Iridium CertusSM 9770, which will enable creation of new consumer and industrial applications that are highly portable and Internet of Things (IOT)-friendly, optimized for small size and low cost, yet with higher speeds than in the past thanks to the upgraded Iridium satellite network.

The completion of the Iridium Next campaign comes as the final two satellites required to complete the network refresh were activated on Feb. 5 at approximately 2:15 p.m. EST. With a fully operational constellation, featuring 66 new Iridium satellites and no further launches planned, Iridium has concluded its nearly decade-long capital-intensive program that created an upgraded network both in space and on the ground. After spending several hundred million dollars per year to build and deploy the new network, Iridium expects capital costs to decrease to approximately $35 million per year, with revenues continuing to grow as the company expands into newer revenue streams like broadband, IOT, and hosted payloads.

“The completion of the Iridium Next program signifies a new chapter in the Iridium story, one that sees us transforming from a big cash spender to a big cash generator,” said Iridium Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Matt Desch. “This is the realization of a long, successful climb, and reaching the peak, it’s gratifying to know the future of the company is secure, and we have now financially matured as a satellite operator. Huge thanks are in order to our entire team, particularly our friends at SpaceX and our prime satellite manufacturer Thales Alenia Space and their teams.”