Satellite mobile voice and communications company Iridium Communications Inc. has been an important partner for SpaceX, that partnership on full display for the January 13, 2017 Falcon 9 return to flight launch after the September 1, 2016 explosion. The company no doubt gained a decent amount of publicity from the circumstances surrounding the launch, but unfortunately the long-term effects of the launch pad accident are starting to settle in.
Originally planned for a mid-April 2017 deployment, the launch date for the next set of Iridium NEXT satellites has now slipped to mid-June, Iridium citing SpaceX’s backlog in its press release on the issue.
— Iridium Corporate (@IridiumComm) February 15, 2017
Iridium CEO Matt Desch continued to express confidence in their partnership with SpaceX, describing the previous mission as a “perfect orbit injection and deployment” and the delay as still in line with the company’s targeted deployment timeline.
The mid-June launch will be the second in an eight-part series of Falcon 9 missions to complete Iridium’s 75-strong NEXT satellite constellation network by mid-2018. The launch will also be part of a “ride share” with NASA, carrying its GFZ Gravity Recover and Climate Experiment Follow-On mission (GRACE-FO).