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Iridium is launching 75 of its 81 second-generation Iridium Next satellites using eight Falcon 9 launches, the first of which took place Jan. 14. In a conference call with reporters June 19, Desch said Iridium’s original contract with SpaceX calls for new Falcon 9s for each mission, but if SpaceX can improve its launch schedule with pre-flown stages, Iridium would consider them for missions in 2018. “While we are currently flying first flown launches, I’m open to previously flown launches, particularly for the second half of our launch schedule,” said Desch.
Desch said there are three criterion by which Iridium would decide whether to use a pre-flown rocket: schedule, cost and reliability — of which schedule is the most important. “Would [pre-flown rockets] improve the current launch plan that I have with brand-new rockets that I’ve basically contracted for a number of years ago and have budgeted for and have paid for?” Desch asked. “That’s the first thing: will they improve my schedule, because schedule to me is very very important.”
I think this tells us that Iridium is waiting to see if this week’s launch of a Bulgarian satellite on a reused first stage is successful. The article also also notes that they are still negotiating over price for using “flight proven” first stages.