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Space Science

Iridium Pushes Ahead Satellite Project 80

Posted by samzenpus
from the space-business dept.
oxide7 writes "Iridium (IRDM) continues its push into the market for satellite data and telemetry services, as it announced the company that would build its second generation of satellites. Iridium's old network of 66 satellites was designed for voice calls; the new satellites will also be able to handle data more efficiently, and include cameras as well. The company also plans to share the satellite platforms with some scientists for use in studying the Earth."
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Iridium Pushes Ahead Satellite Project

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  • by Rusty KB (1778458) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:23AM (#32441670)
    A slashvertisement for *who*? Raise you hand if you can afford a satellite!
  • Business Plan? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by backslashdot (95548) * on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:29AM (#32441704)

    I really hope they solved the 3 issues with their previous attempt: 1. Cost per minute of usage 2. Need for huge antennas (adds to bulk/weight) 3. Massive battery required (makes the phone bulky/heavier).

  • Re:Business Plan? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kjella (173770) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:20AM (#32442446) Homepage

    Iridium appeals to users who need connectivity everywhere on the planet,

    And needs it in a fairly mobile and battery-efficient matter in between cell phones and a big fixed installation. Part of Iridium's problem was from what I understood that you need quite many satellites for coverage, the wikipedia page says 66, and being in LEO they also need a lot of boosting to stay in orbit. If you're doing something like setting up a remote science station, my impression was that you'd rather throw up a huge dish and talk directly to a GEO satellite because in total it's cheaper. Around the base you can have your own wifi/(femto-)cell/walkie-talkie setup with small handsets. Ultimately Iridium is for a very small market of mobilse users in very remote areas.

  • by ctrl-alt-canc (977108) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:20AM (#32442448)

    I hope they will be less reflective [wikipedia.org]. Their flares cause troubles to astronomers.

  • Not true. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Aldric (642394) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:42AM (#32442526)
    Iridium are the best duplex LEO network (better for low power applications than GEO) and the only serious competition to Inmarsat. Inmarsat would not have made nearly as much progress if they had no decent competition - GlobalStar are simplex and Orbcomm are as abysmally useless are always.
  • Privatised spying.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wiredog (43288) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @06:46AM (#32442554) Journal

    Ever heard of GeoEye? [geoeye.com]

  • by The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:40AM (#32442776)

    I was wondering the same, as well as if they would be a predictive as the current ones. My 6 YO enjoys seeing them so we check the schedule at heavens-above.com [heavens-above.com] regularly for bright ones at "reasonable" times.

  • Re:Cameras?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:07AM (#32444130) Homepage Journal

    Actually You may be surprised. Yes it will not be you average point and shoot but these are in a pretty low orbit. You get a professional medium format body with a good 40 MP CCD for around$10,000 combine sensor that with good optics and space rate it and the entire package would probably run under $100,000. Of course you may want IR as well as visual range but the overall cost will still be manageable.
    How good can you get? I am not sure. Probably not as good as the best Google earth pictures but maybe two zoom levels higher. To be honest yes they are all guesses because I am not an expert on photography.

    Is to the business case. Yes military already use commercial imaging all the time. With this system the delay between and event and getting imagery would be extremely short.
    Think about Haiti or the other natural disasters. Pretty good high resolution imagery could be available in under an hour in almost any case.
    Weather monitoring is another option. We could bet much better coverage of the polar regions with these.

    So yea I can see some real use

  • Re:Business Plan? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zulux (112259) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:33AM (#32445324) Homepage Journal

    A friend borrowed my Iridium phone and had to use their emergency services (911) - the call center that they were hooked up to was in his words "frighteningly competent." ...

    Rambling Iridium thoughts:

    I've enjoyed the service myself - with the phone and and a Psion Revo (It has a native serial port), I can telnet to any of my severs while in the woods. Strangely, it let's me relax knowing that I can help out my users.

    At around 2400 baud - don't use SSH. Oh... Screen is your friend as it does cut out enough.

    If you use a PC - it come with some proxy software and a proxy server that will remove/compress images, but any computer with a serial port can use it as a modem. Sadly, modern pdas lack serial ports, but old Posion Revos/5-series are cheap, last a long time, and have awesome keyboards and work well.

    I have an older Motorola Iridium phone, so I don't know if this setup would work with the more modern phones.

  • Re:Cameras?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tyldis (712367) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @11:43AM (#32445474)

    You probably do not realize that the images Google Earth uses are largely collected by private satellites?
    GeoEye is one of them, for instance. DigitalGlobe operates several as well.

    As for hefty infrastructure on the ground; there are companies selling ground station services. I work for one of them and it doesn't cost you much to buy a time slot to communicate with your satellite. Heck, we offer the complete process, you only need TCP/IP (or ISDN if you are conservative). The launch does not have to be too expensive if you piggyback on the Indian launchers. But of course, you have to build it first :)

    And Iridium has a decent ground network for something like this (we actually happen to host some of it too).

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