Planned launch of first two Iridium NEXT satellites was cancelled due the problems with availability of Ukrainian Dnepr rockets and lack of agree from Russian authorities for launching Dnepr from Russian Dombarovsky Cosmodrome. ISC Kosmotras Company responsible for launching Iridium NEXT-1 and Iridium NEXT-2 satellites mission was forced to break contract - Iridium decided to combine these two satellites with mission contracted to SpaceX. Falcon-9 1.2V will lift ten Iridium NEXT earlier (mission is moved from August) then it was planned to help Iridium with replacing previous generation of Iridium satellites. First generation remains in space since 2002 when last Iridium satellite was launched (picture on the left). New generation satellites will help Iridium to offer best global mobile telecommunications services.
Iridium Next satellites are manufactured and designed by Thales Alenia Space and based on Elite bus. They are equipped in transponders operating in L band and Ka band (crosslink and downlink).Each satellite weighs 800 kg and is powered with two solar arrays. Iridium NEXT will remain operational for at least ten years after being placed on LEO with 780 km × 780 km with inclination at 86.4°.