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Space Science

Iridium Pushes Ahead Satellite Project 80

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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  • Cameras?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spectrokid ( 660550 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:15AM (#32441618) Homepage
    Just one little sentence. They will include cameras as well. WTF?? Privatised spying? Own your own weather-sat? Delivering Google-earth quality pictures (or better) is not only going to take one hell of a lens, but also a hefty infrastructure on the ground. They must have a solid business case. This isn't like putting a "camera" on a 50€ cellphone.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:19AM (#32441648)

    Many business magazines include ticker symbols for the companies they mention in articles, even if the article is a serious piece that is critical of the company. So I think this assumption of yours that a ticker symbol is some sort of flag that something is an advertisement is plainly wrong.

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

    by f3rret ( 1776822 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:21AM (#32441656)

    This is Iridium we're talking about, they don't worry about details like "buisiness plans". When they first rolled out their service their business plan depended on the fact it would eventualy be as pervasive as cellular phones and that sure worked out fine.

  • Re:Business Plan? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Biogenesis ( 670772 ) <overclocker.bren ...> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @03:58AM (#32441882) Homepage
    As a suburban inhabitant who's used to small mobile phones it's natural for you to assume that satellite phone size is a major issue, but for people who would regularly require satellite phones they only need to have a better cost:performance* ratio than remote communication alternatives, such as HF radio.

    *performance in this context would be a subjective measure which includes factors such as reliability, size, weight etc.
  • by confused one ( 671304 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @05:43AM (#32442318)
    I could have sworn launching the first set of satellites bankrupted the original Iridium owner. Not that that's ever stopped anyone.
  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:05AM (#32442622) Journal

    ...and it's really annoying. If people really want to look at the stock price it's not hard to look it up. The worst articles are the ones that are written like:

    "Steve Ballmer of Microsoft (MSFT, people, news) today challenged Novell (NOVL, people news) to a duel today after Novell announced it was to use Solaris (SUNW, people, news) to power its new IBM (IBM, people, news) Intel (INTL, people, news) based servers"

  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:37AM (#32442754) Homepage Journal

    I hope they will be less reflective. Their flares cause troubles to astronomers.

    If astronomy is disturbed by satellites, then astronomy is what needs to change. We need more of them, and such problems will only become more commonplace.

  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @07:37AM (#32442756) Homepage

    Are you kidding? Iridium flares are one of the coolest and most predictable transient events in the night sky that can be seen with the naked eye.

  • Re:Skynet (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 03, 2010 @09:02AM (#32443470)

    How to game the slashbots:

    1) Make a vacuous post about any new technology leading to Skynet
    2) Reap moderations

    Seriously, we see this shit every god damn thread. It's not funny, it's not original. Go to hell.

  • 20/20 hindsight (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Thursday June 03, 2010 @10:44AM (#32444622) Homepage

    When they first rolled out their service their business plan depended on the fact it would eventualy be as pervasive as cellular phones and that sure worked out fine.

    You have to keep in mind that when planning started for these services (and Iridium wasn't the only one) in the mid 1990's, it wasn't at all clear that cell phone services would expand as fast and penetrate as deeply as they ended up doing. Back then, cell phones were high tech toys with coverage largely limited to major urban areas.
    As an aside, one thing few people realize is that the roots of the current commercial space 'boom' lie in that era. It was widely believed that there would be multiple satellite providers, and that with each satellite network requiring between fifty and a hundred birds, that there would be a large number of launches both for initial provisioning and ongoing replacement. In the eyes of the community that meant an opportunity for a large market and a big chance to undercut the 'big boys'. They believed that by purchasing launches the satellite providers would end up underwriting the development of the boosters, providing a shortcut to commercial manned space.

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

    by default luser ( 529332 ) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @04:49PM (#32450504) Journal

    Iridium Satellite LLC is actually profitable, unlike the original Iridium LLC which went bankrupt promptly after launching the system and sold it to Iridium Satellite for pennies on the dollar.

    Yeah, funny how it gets a lot easier to run the business when Motorola assumes the 5 billion of debt and sells it to you for $25 million. The success of Iridium Satellite LLC is subsidized by the ashes of the original company.

    Proper management made the difference after the sale removed the debt, but even if the company had been properly managed from the beginning, it still would have folded. Even 300k subscribers is not going to pay off that 5 billion monster, not when they're only netting about 14 million a year [] (when they turn a profit, which they did not for 2010).

    I wish them well milking what they can from their cheap windfall. But I laugh at the thought that they might build another multi-billion dollar constellation based off such a pitiful business plan. Yes, their subscribers are GROWING, but only because they can offer such insanely cheap rates without having to pay-off the painful debt.

    As soon as they invest in their own new constellation, they will either have to conjure millions of new customers out of thin air, or they will have to raise prices (this will send customers running, so I'm going to go with option one). But since the DoD contracts are already pretty saturated (seriously, does the military need a contract for more than 20k users?), the customer growth would have to come from the commercial or consumer sector. Either way, they are doomed in this approach, and once again, investors are going to sat the losses and subsidize a successful network.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll