Iridium Taps Relativity Space for Ground Spare Satellite Launches; Matt Desch Quoted

Matt Desch
Matt Desch

Iridium Communications has awarded Relativity Space a contract to perform up to six on-demand launches to deliver ground spare satellites to low-Earth orbit.

The planned launches are expected to begin in 2023 and will use Relativity’s 3D-printed rocket Terran 1, the companies said in a joint release published Wednesday.

Iridium completed in January 2019 its second-generation satellite constellation, which is composed of 66 satellites and nine in-orbit spares. The launch contract with Relativity allows Iridium to quickly field a satellite to one of its orbital planes on an as-needed basis.

“The upgraded Iridium satellite constellation is operating incredibly well, but it’s prudent to have a cost-effective launch option available for future spare delivery,” said Matt Desch, CEO of Iridium and a 2020 Wash100 Award winner. “Relativity’s Terran 1 fits our launch needs to LEO well from both a price, responsiveness and capability perspective.”

Relativity also signed a right of entry agreement with the U.S. Air Force’s 30th Space Wing to facilitate the development of launch site facilities at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California to support Iridium satellite deployment missions to the polar orbits.

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