Iridium Takes NEXT Step with Future Constellation

Iridium said it reached agreements with three companies to enter into the concept development phase for "NEXT," its next-generation satellite constellation.

During the next five months, Lockheed Martin, Space Systems Loral and Thales Alenia Space will develop design concepts, review critical engineering trades and evaluate performance and capabilities required for NEXT along with the costs to manufacture and launch the system, Iridium said.

The mobile satellite company said it eventually plans to select two candidates to undertake a detailed system development phase of the procurement process.

Through NEXT, Iridium plans to offer a flexible set of services, from high-bandwidth data to voice and short messaging services, enabling new applications for commercial and government users. NEXT will feature an IP- based architecture.