Mobile satellite services provider Iridium will use previously flown Falcon 9 first stages for its next two launches in order not to miss its mid-2018 goal for completing the Iridium Next constellation.
SpaceX carried out the third of eight missions for Iridium Communications early Oct. 9, launching ten more Iridium Next satellites on a Falcon 9 from California.
Mobile satellite services operator Iridium announced July 28 that SpaceX will conduct the third launch in its fleet replenishment Sept. 30 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
SpaceX completed a “doubleheader” of launches June 25 with the launch of a second set of next-generation Iridium satellites from California, two days after another Falcon 9 from the East Coast.
The system uses GPS data and onboard computers to monitor the rocket's trajectory and destroy it should it go off course. It was first tested earlier this year on a Falcon 9 launch from the Kennedy Space Center.
Now that its first batch of next generation satellites is in orbit and operational, mobile satellite services provider Iridium is preparing deorbit procedures for its legacy fleet of low-Earth orbit satellites that launched in the late 1990s.
CEO Matt Desch said the next batch of 10 Iridium Next satellites is scheduled for launch June 29.
The agency providing U.S. government access to Iridium’s global constellation of mobile communications satellites on Nov. 9 urged other nations to join the program to take advantage of its fixed-price, unlimited-access feature.
Mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications expects to complete negotiations with its lenders and its satellite manufacturer by the end of the year ro loosen payment obligations to ride out the delay in the launch of its second-generation constellation.
The commercial company with arguably the most at stake in a quick and successful return to flight of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Sept. 8 gave a ringing endorsement of the launch-service provider even as SpaceX founder Elon Musk issued statements saying the investigation will be complicated.