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Whats the reason for this? What is it about a satellite that causes it to produce flares that the new ones don't have.

(I always thought flares were sunlight reflections off solar panels. Is it that the new ones have less panels? Or is it about positioning?)

The original Iridium satellites had large metal panels (which contained the phased array antennae) that were at a bit of an angle to the ground, this made it possible for reflected sunlight to hit the Earth, causing a "flare" for whoever happened to be in that beam. The Iridium NEXT satellites have an antenna panel that is much closer to parallel to the surface of the Earth, so any reflected sunlight beams will pass at a glancing angle and won't intersect the Earth.

Iridium flares are reflections from the antennas, not solar panels. The new satellites have a different antenna arrangement which doesn't flare.

Having a solar panel that flares seems like an easy way to get an inefficient solar panel…

Not sure why you’re down voted. That’s a critical part of the answer.

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