MCLEAN, Va., Oct. 16, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) today announced that it has successfully completed a Critical Design Review (CDR) of the complete Iridium NEXT satellite network system, demonstrating its design is valid and on schedule for first launch in early 2015. The review represents an important transition from the network design to the fabrication and testing phase of Iridium's next-generation constellation. The Iridium NEXT satellite network will offer substantially greater bandwidth, improved data speeds, more flexible bandwidth allocation and global coverage, enabling Iridium and its vast ecosystem of partners to support more powerful new devices and applications with enhanced services to meet the changing business needs of its customers. It will also serve as a platform for the company's newly announced Iridium PRIME SM offering, a turnkey solution for hosted payloads which will provide all elements of a successful hosted payload mission at an estimated cost savings of 50% or more compared to current stand-alone solutions. "We're very proud of the successful completion of the CDR phase under the direction of our prime contractor Thales Alenia Space," stated Scott Smith, Iridium's Chief Operating Officer. "The entire Iridium NEXT Mission Team working on this program represents the best and the brightest in the industry, and collectively we strive to consistently meet the highest standards of design, engineering and innovation within the timelines of the Iridium NEXT program. Completing the CDR phase establishes that all components of the satellites will properly function as designed in the dynamic environment of the new constellation, keeping the Iridium NEXT program schedule on track and on budget." Thales Alenia Space ( www.thalesaleniaspace.com ) is leading the design and construction of the satellites for the Iridium NEXT constellation and will partner with Iridium to provide and produce a new satellite bus for Iridium PRIME, maintaining the inter-satellite crosslink functionality and the ability to fly within the Iridium NEXT constellation. In addition, the companies will work together to develop a Hosted Payload Controller for the Iridium PRIME bus to ensure independence and diversity of missions on Iridium PRIME satellites. Customers with compatible missions will be able to share the platform-minimizing costs and leverage the company's investment in Iridium NEXT. "Thales Alenia Space is proud to work with Iridium on the largest satellite constellation in the history of the industry," stated Nathalie Smirnov, EVP Telecommunication, Thales Alenia Space. "With Iridium NEXT and Iridium PRIME satellites, this constellation will be ready to offer customers groundbreaking choice and flexibility for their technology solutions and hosted payloads."