- Press Release
- Oct 31, 2023
Iridium Announces Ninth SpaceX Launch
Iridium Communications Inc. (NASDAQ: IRDM) today announced that it has reached an agreement with SpaceX to launch up to five of the company’s remaining ground spare satellites from the Iridium® NEXT program, on its Falcon 9 rocket. Known as Iridium-9, the launch is planned to take place at Vandenberg Space Force Base in mid-2023. Earlier this year, Iridium celebrated the 25th anniversary of the first launch in Iridium’s history, which also took place from Vandenberg on May 5, 1997. That first ever launch also carried five Iridium satellites to orbit on a Delta II rocket.
Iridium-9 will be Iridium’s second rideshare with SpaceX. Previously, SpaceX conducted eight Iridium launches between January 2017 and January 2019. These launches delivered 75 satellites to LEO as part of the Iridium NEXT campaign, replacing the company’s original satellite constellation. Since completion of the launch campaign in 2019, Iridium has 66 operational satellites, nine on-orbit spares and six additional spares on the ground. Up to five of those six ground spares are planned for launch as part of Iridium-9. All satellites in the upgraded Iridium constellation were built by Thales Alenia Space and carry the Aireon® hosted payload, which provides truly global, real-time surveillance of aircraft around the world.
“We have always said that when the right opportunity presented itself, we would launch many, if not all, of our remaining ground spares, and just such an opportunity came about,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch. “Our constellation is incredibly healthy; however, the spare satellites have no utility to us on the ground. We built extra satellites as an insurance policy, and with SpaceX’s stellar track record, we look forward to another successful launch, which will position us even better to replicate the longevity of our first constellation.”
Since the completion of the upgraded Iridium network in early 2019, Iridium’s customer base grew by more than 730,000 subscribers in just three years and has more than 1.8 million today. With that subscriber growth came several new Iridium products and services, including the Iridium Certus® specialty broadband platform, Iridium’s Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, Iridium Global Line of Sight® service for uncrewed and autonomous systems, and over 150 new Iridium narrowband and specialty broadband products brought to market by our partner ecosystem.
Iridium remains the only commercial satellite constellation with truly global coverage, offering weather-resilient L-band service from pole-to-pole. The constellation is divided into six polar orbiting planes that each include 11 operational crosslinked satellites. The satellites from Iridium-9 will be launched into a parking orbit, and after initial testing will be drifted to their assigned spare orbits.
About Iridium Communications Inc.
Iridium® is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Iridium enables connections between people, organizations and assets to and from anywhere, in real time. Together with its ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium delivers an innovative and rich portfolio of reliable solutions for markets that require truly global communications. In 2019, the company completed a generational upgrade of its satellite network and launched its new specialty broadband service, Iridium Certus®. Iridium Communications Inc. is headquartered in McLean, Va., U.S.A., and its common stock trades on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol IRDM. For more information about Iridium products, services and partner solutions, visit www.iridium.com.
Forward-Looking Statements Disclosure
Statements in this presentation that are not purely historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. The Company has based these statements on its current expectations and the information currently available to us. Forward-looking statements in this press release include statements regarding the timing, number and placement of launch of additional satellites, and the expected longevity of the Iridium constellation. Forward-looking statements can be identified by the words “anticipates,” “may,” “can,” “believes,” “expects,” “projects,” “intends,” “likely,” “will,” “to be” and other expressions that are predictions or indicate future events, trends or prospects. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Iridium to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, uncertainties regarding the launch and performance of the satellites, as well as general industry and economic conditions, and competitive, legal, governmental and technological factors. Other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements include those factors listed under the caption “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2021, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) on February 17, 2021, and the Company’s Form 10-Q for the quarter ended June 30, 2022, filed with the SEC on July 26, 2022, as well as other filings Iridium makes with the SEC from time to time. There is no assurance that Iridium’s expectations will be realized. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or if Iridium’s underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those expected, estimated or projected. Iridium’s forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release, and Iridium undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements.