MCLEAN, Va., April 24, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announced today it has signed an agreement with Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) to enable the use of expanded hosted payload space on the Iridium NEXT platform, Iridium's second-generation satellite constellation that is scheduled for launch beginning in early 2015. This deal marks yet another example of the innovation and leadership Iridium has demonstrated in hosted payloads through Iridium NEXT.
The agreement provides for "hosting fees" for Iridium NEXT resources that will be utilized when launched into orbit on Iridium's new satellites, further extending the ongoing partnership between the two companies. The amount of hosting fees could be up to $45 million depending on Harris securing contracts with customers, and on the final configuration and resources utilized. The total amount won't be finalized until all payloads are launched on Iridium NEXT, scheduled to be complete in 2017.
The hosting fees will be paid to Iridium over the next four years as the Iridium NEXT constellation is built and launched. The agreement also allows for data service fees to Iridium to provide data transport and payload management services each year their payloads are operational during Iridium NEXT's lifetime, which could be to 2030 or beyond. Iridium also expects to generate additional incremental revenues beyond Aireon and the Harris payload as other capabilities of the Iridium NEXT platform are utilized."This is another important milestone for Iridium as we complete our vision for hosted payloads on Iridium NEXT. It realizes a once-in-a-generation opportunity to share our unique network with other customers and applications while we renew and expand our communications services for the future," said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. "Finalizing this agreement deepens our relationship with Harris, who has been a fantastic technology partner for Aireon, and allows Harris to support other applications for their customers at a fraction of the cost of what they would have to pay to develop and launch independently. This opportunity reinforces the power of the Iridium ® network and is a testament to our continued vision for added capabilities on Iridium NEXT beyond our core mission." In June 2012, Iridium announced the creation of Aireon LLC, a joint-venture with NAV CANADA to fly a unique payload on the Iridium NEXT constellation that will track commercial aircraft and provide that information in near-real time to air traffic controllers. Harris was selected by Aireon to supply the payload, and is building 81 payloads that will be integrated with Iridium's new satellites to receive the "ADS-B" position signals from aircraft, including those over the world's oceans, poles, and remote regions where there is currently no surveillance of aircraft. After finalizing the requirements for the Aireon SM system, additional hosted payload space remained available to support the other missions that Harris will now utilize. "Harris and Iridium are creating great customer opportunities for hosted payloads, and we are expanding our relationship to bring Iridium-based communications solutions to our customers in many market segments," said Bill Gattle, Vice President of Aerospace Systems at Harris GCS. "We have made great progress to date on the Aireon payload project, and we are now very excited to work with Iridium on using the additional space on board to address other customer applications. Iridium NEXT offers a rare opportunity to leverage a global constellation of satellites for multiple applications. This new hosting agreement gives us a chance to showcase how the Harris AppSTAR TM reconfigurable payload platform can provide responsive on-orbit capabilities to customers as hosted payloads on very aggressive schedules." With this agreement, Iridium has enabled full utilization of the hosted payload resources it made available to the industry when it specified the Iridium NEXT system in 2007. Iridium NEXT consists of 66 operational satellites, plus six in-orbit spares, and nine ground spares that are scheduled to completely replace Iridium's current network by 2017. Iridium created the specifications and interfaces for one or more hosted payloads to provide a platform for other applications to "piggyback" on Iridium's new satellites as they are launched into space.