Iridium Selects SpaceX to Launch Next-Generation Satellites

selected Space Exploration Technologies Corp. to launch its next-generation satellites into space during the middle of the decade, as the world's largest satellite-communication provider updates its current constellation.

Under the contract, which is valued at $492 million, SpaceX will provide launch services to send Iridium new-generation satellites into a low-earth orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California between 2015 and 2017. The deal is so far the largest single commercial launch deal ever signed, the companies said in a statement.

SpaceX will use its new launch-vehicle Falcon 9 for the task.

The company earlier this month made history with the successful launch of Falcon 9, the first privately funded spaceship capable to putting people into space. It opened what is likely to become a new chapter in manned space exploration as the Obama administration wants NASA to outsource cargo and astronaut transportation to the international space station for at least a decade.

Iridium, which said Wednesday it is also in talks with at least one other launch-service provider, last month reported it swung to a first-quarter loss on higher costs while revenue increased 8%.

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