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Fourth Iridium NEXT launch date announced

Iridium will re-use recovered Falcon 9 first stage equipment in its next two NEXT launches Iridium will re-use recovered Falcon 9 first stage equipment in its next two NEXT launches

Iridium has announced that its fourth Iridium NEXT launch has been targeted by SpaceX for December 22, 2017, to take place once again from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}This fourth launch signifies the mid-way point of the Iridium NEXT launch programme and will aim to deliver another 10 satellites to orbit, to bring the total number deployed to 40.

Targeted to take place less than three months after the third NEXT launch, which was completed successfully on October 9, the December date will enable Iridium to maintain its plan to complete all launches by mid-2018.

To date, 30 Iridium NEXT satellites have been deployed, a number of which have been integrated with the existing Iridium constellation and are already providing service to customers. The new satellites are also now undergoing on-orbit testing for Iridium Certus, the company’s next generation L-band broadband service.

In addition to the fourth launch date, Iridium also announced it has reached agreement with SpaceX to re-use rocket first stages already used in prior missions for the next two Iridium launches, as part of the SpaceX booster refurbishment programme.

“I believe that reusability is the future for satellite launches, and I think SpaceX has intelligently built their Falcon 9 programme around this strategy,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.

“With three successful flight-proven Falcon 9 launches already this year, we’re excited to show leadership towards the sustainable access to space, while also making sure we maintain our cadence to complete the five remaining Iridium NEXT launches by the middle of next year.”{/mprestriction}

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