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Iridium Communications unveils hosted payload solution
[September 17, 2013]

Iridium Communications unveils hosted payload solution


Sep 17, 2013 (MarketLine via COMTEX) -- Iridium Communications Inc., a provider of mobile voice and data satellite communications services, has announced the first turnkey hosted payload solution, Iridium PRIME, to host third-party payloads on stand-alone satellites leveraging the connectivity afforded by the Iridium NEXT satellite network.



The Iridium PRIME program revolutionizes the hosted payload business model with an integrated service which reduces the complexity, delays and costs typically associated with building, launching and operating a satellite mission.

According to the company, with a growing demand for additional hosted payload opportunities, a proven track record as a leader in the industry and the opportunity to leverage the investment and learning costs from Iridium NEXT, Iridium is uniquely positioned to offer commercial and government payload customers a turnkey solution for all elements of a successful hosted payload mission including launch, ground infrastructure, two-way payload control, high-speed inter-satellite links and global coverage.


Iridium PRIME offsets the traditional challenges of hosted payload missions which include inflexible launch schedules, 'one-off' mission control systems and ground connectivity challenges by providing customers access to a proven end-to-end satellite constellation with complete flexibility on the number of payloads they deploy, number of planes they occupy, and independent mission control with a cost savings of 50 percent or more compared to current stand-alone solutions, the company said.

While the Iridium NEXT hosted payload space is now fully allocated to two entities, Aireon LLC for its space-based aircraft surveillance application and Harris Corporation for additional auxiliary payloads, Iridium PRIME offers customers a new approach.

Customers can use a whole satellite's payload capacity, or just share that capacity with other applications and customers that Iridium brings together. Potential missions include earth observation, terrethomstrial and space-based weather monitoring, communications support including advanced broadband services, Automatic Identification System (AIS) tracking and other government missions. Iridium PRIME provides flexible scheduling to launch whenever payloads are ready, starting as early as fourth quarter 2017, allowing customers longer lead times for budgeting their hosted payload missions.

"We're very proud to announce Iridium PRIME with the support of our partner Thales Alenia Space as this program represents a ground-breaking opportunity in commercial satellite services," stated Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium Communications Inc.

"We led the commercialization of the hosted payload concept and initiated the founding of the Hosted Payload Alliance, and have since explored more than 30 potential payload concepts. With Iridium PRIME, we are using our expertise to leverage our $3 billion investment in the Iridium NEXT constellation to create new business opportunities at a fraction of the cost and complexity of traditional stand-alone missions, opening space-based solutions to an array of new customers. As a result, we anticipate significant hosting and data services revenue for Iridium over the next 15 to 20 years." Iridium will reportedly orchestrate payload arrangements from launch to operations providing in effect a payload "concierge service" to best-in-class payload technology providers and their customers to create a wide array of commercial and governmental missions. Iridium will build, launch and fly up to 66 additional Iridium PRIME hosted payload satellites utilizing the Iridium constellation infrastructure and operations.

Iridium PRIME satellites can utilize Iridium's inter-satellite links and global ground systems to provide two-way control and data delivery from diverse hosted payloads. The Iridium PRIME bus will be derived from the Iridium NEXT satellite design, removing L-Band communications equipment unnecessary for this use, and dramatically expanding the volume, weight, power and data capacity of the satellite vehicle to support a wider variety of payloads for potential customers.

Iridium is also announcing today the appointment of Col. David A. Anhalt (USAF Ret.) as vice president and general manager of Iridium PRIME. Mr Anhalt is a recognized leader in the hosted payload industry. Prior to his position at Iridium, he was the initial vice chairman of the Hosted Payload Alliance and is its current secretary.

Following a distinguished career in the US Air Force, he held several senior management roles at Orbital Sciences and Space Systems/Loral including the conception and architecture of the Commercial Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP). He will be involved in business development for Iridium PRIME focusing on customer acquisition and technology partnerships, the company added.

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