Iridium, a satellite-communications provider figuring prominently on SpaceX’s launch manifest, outpaced expectations with a 45 percent rise in third-quarter profit to $29.5 million.
On a per-share basis, the McLean, Va.-based company reported earnings of 24 cents, up from 17 cents a year earlier and well outdistancing analysts’ consensus projection for the latest quarter of 18 cents. Company stock soared on the news.
In 2010, Iridium signed a $492 million contract with SpaceX to launch 70 of Iridium’s next-gen communications satellites — bound for its appropriately dubbed NEXT constellation — on seven of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets.
Once set for 2015, delays have pushed the first NEXT launch to April. SpaceX has yet to set a date for its first Iridium mission, but the Hawthorne, Calif.-based rocket company lists seven unslotted Iridium launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
Iridium’s first two NEXT sats will be launched on a Dnepr rocket by Russian launch provider Kosmotras from Yasny launch base in Russia. Iridium estimates its first SpaceX launch will occur four months after that, with six more SpaceX launches to follow in two-month intervals.
SpaceX has been in launch hiatus during an investigation into the June 28 explosion of a Falcon 9 in a cargo resupply mission for NASA and the International Space Station.
Additionally, Iridium has been stuck in a protracted search for insurance on the NEXT launches.
“We continue to expect the Iridium NEXT constellation to be fully operational by the end of 2017,” CEO Matt Desch said. “Insurance for the initial launch has been fully bound, and Iridium has agreed with its lenders on material terms to amend its credit facility to provide additional flexibility in obtaining launch and in-orbit insurance.”
Iridium (Nasdaq: IRDM) released its financial results prior to market trading on Oct. 29. Its shares closed up $1.45 cents, or 22 percent, at $7.97.