The planned launch would bring the total number of Iridium NEXT satellites in space to 40 as part of a potential $3 billion program to replace an existing constellation of communications satellites, Iridium said Thursday.
The announcement came nearly two weeks after the third set of Iridium NEXT satellites lifted off aboard Falcon 9.
Iridium said it also agreed with SpaceX to reuse flight-proven, first-stage boosters for its next two satellite launches.
“I believe that reusability is the future for satellite launches, and I think SpaceX has intelligently built their Falcon 9 program around this strategy,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch.
Desch, an inductee into Executive Mosaic’s Wash100 for 2017, added the company expects to conclude the five remaining NEXT launches by mid-2018.
The company has begun on-orbit tests of its broadband service offering – Iridium Certus – designed to deliver global L-band connectivity through its newly deployed NEXT satellites.