Iridium Communications – in the midst of launching their next generation communications constellation – has formally signed an agreement with SpaceX to utilize flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters on their upcoming Iridium NEXT-4 and -5 missions. Iridium NEXT-4, scheduled to launch NET 22 December 2017 from SLC-4E, will be the first flight-proven Falcon 9 mission from Vandenberg. The change in boosters now negates the possibility of a Return To Launch Site landing of the Falcon 9 for the mission.
Iridium switches to flight-proven boosters:
Iridium Communications has formally announced plans to fly the company’s next 20 satellites (10 per mission) on flight-proven Falcon 9 boosters.
“Iridium has reached agreement with SpaceX to utilize flight-proven first stages for the next two Iridium launches,” noted the company in a media release Thursday morning. “Iridium conducted extensive due diligence work and is fully confident in the SpaceX booster refurbishment program.”
The agreement signed with SpaceX only addresses the Iridium NEXT-4 and -5 missions, which will loft the Iridium NEXT 31-40 and 41-50 satellites, respectively, and follows comments from Iridium CEO Matt Desch that Iridium was not opposed to flying on flight-proven Falcon 9 cores as long as the risk and insurance elements of that ...