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back to article Iridium flares for another $500m

Iridium, the satellite-phone operation that went bankrupt back in 1999 and has been quietly turning a profit since 2005, is to be merged with an investment bank affiliate in a deal that gives the company $500m in cash to play with. The deal "ensures the future of Iridium", according to chief executive Matt Desch. "We won't need …

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Crash and Burn

ISTR that the use of low earth orbit by the Iridium satellites meant that they were expected to last for only about six years before they burn up in the earth’s atmosphere. So, if the long term plan doesn't involve regularly replacing the satellites, then they have no long term plan for the business.

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Ian
Paris Hilton

Atomic Number, not Atomic Weight

``design originally called for 77, the atomic weight of Iridium''

Number, not weight. Iridium has 77 protons, hence the atomic number is 77. The stable isotopes have an atomic weight of 191 and 193, with 114 and 116 neutrons respectively.

Paris. Because she should do A Level Physics, too.

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Surely typo?

hopefully with birds that are as strikingly visible as the old ones - just ask every astronomer. Iridium is their favourite pet hate subject due to it spoiling observations via its "flashes". So if Iridium will try to launch any more "flashy" satellites there will be a considerable level of lobbying against it.

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@ Ralph B

The Iridium satellites are going to be up there a while yet; the only lifetimes I've seen quoted on them were the service lifetimes which were originally six to seven years. However, Iridium have extended the lifetimes as the satellites have been more reliable than expected. They have some spares in orbit and on the ground so can still provide a service even if one or more satellites dies. I think they've lost a couple already, but I'm not sure if they were DOA or died in service.

Iridium was a great idea, but like everything else from Motorola, the product sucked.

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Happy

More flashy iridium please!

Actually, Iridium as quite well liked by the average astronomers. They are indeed quite nice to see. If you have a chance go out a observe a -7 or -6 iridium flash. They are rare enough that they aren't an annoyance.

True, they are a form of pollution for the astrophotographer but really all satellites are. Planes are even more annoying with less redeeming value.

They look like someone is turning on a flashlight in the middle of the constellation. Go out and enjoy them on a clear night. They are fun to see.

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Why bother?

Why bother with commercial providers when military satellites are mostly unprotected?

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Linux

Theese Investeeng, eeht makes no sense.

seems like an odd choice for an investment company. as land-towers and even landcable are being massively ramped up in terms of operating efficiency and data handling with Fiber replacement in high-density areas and new build, dark fiber being lit up again and even the old copper networks seeing imprvements from ADSL and improved compression software. I dont see a growth market for them, let alone the fact that for the next ten years or so they'll be forced to buy launch time from Soyuz-based launch vehicles as the shuttles are retired.

increased launch costs, no growth market = why invest? I cant help but feel that Iridiums only market, of massively out-of-civlisation groups is its only way forward, keeping them with the crowd its always had; jungle documentary teams, arctic research posts, oil rigs, and desert goons. as it stands I'd be worried that the massive fleet of communications satellites being readied for on-demand satellite services arent going to slide in neatly and take their tiny market share, not to mention PPPs between military/overnment networks and the public.

also, @ Ian : dunno about you chief, but we covered Atomic composition and covalent bonding during GCSE chemistry.

Tux, becuse even a penguin can finish GCSE chem. (and not paris, for obvious reasons)

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Black Helicopters

3% gone where

42% to Iridium

55% to investors

3% Mysteriously not accounted for in article

black helicopter: Well it's slightly mysterious!

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Inverse square law

While the latency issue was a good one, I thought the main reason for wanting satellites in lower orbits was transmission power considerations. The old satellite phones were suitcase-sized because they needed a big aerial and batteries to be able to transmit to the geostationary satellites 25000 miles away. The Iridium constellation was going to be much closer, and could be reached with a handset-sized device.

As for Dysprosium, they should have changed the name to Dysfunctional. :-)

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