An artistic concept of the Iridium Next constellation. Credit: Thales Alenia Space

WASHINGTON — Iridium Communications, a provider of mobile satellite communications, on June 4 announced a new five-year contract valued at $94 million — with a potential total value of $103 million — to provide communication support services to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The contract, awarded by the Space Systems Command’s Commercial Space Office (COMSO) within the U.S. Space Force, is for ground infrastructure services in support of the Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) program. 

EMSS is a program designed specifically for the DoD and approved users that provides communication services through Iridium’s satellite network. The program is like a giant DoD family plan for global satellite communications, offering unlimited voice calls and narrowband data transmissions.

Service center for DoD users

The new $94 million contract is called ECS3, short for EMSS capabilities and security sustainment services, and supports the EMSS Service Center which facilitates communication across the Iridium network. It replaces a previous 4.5-year contract known as e Gateway Maintenance Support Services Agreement signed in 2019 for $54 million. 

The current seven-year EMSS contract, awarded in September 2019, is worth $738.5 million through 2026. The new ECS3 contract would support the infrastructure used for EMSS through 2029.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...