Spacex launch in 15 minutes
That was cool to see the live video from stage 1 streamed all the way down until it saw the barge, I don't recall seeing the stage 1 camera stay live all the way down before.
So the first generation satellite phones were in geostationary orbit, which meant they had long latency for calls, and had to be huge because they needed large antennas.
Iridium Inc launched a huge number of small moving satellites continuously moving in low earth orbit, to provide global coverage with low latency, but requiring a vast fleet of 77 satellites (Iridium is atomic number 77) that are continually transferring your call from one satellite to the next as they pass over head, then relaying the call via its mesh to a satellite near a download terminal at the other side of your call.
It cost Iridium $9 billion to launch this network in 1998 scaled back to 66 satellites. And they went bankrupt less than 12 months later in 1999.
They were then supposed to decommission and deorbit the entire network since they were no longer orbiting. Instead the bankruptcy court sold the entire network to a new company, Iridium Communications LLC, for $25 million. They then engaged in rent collecting on a network they didn't build since then.
The network was designed to last 7 years at most and is all in need of replacement. That is what they are now doing, at a cost of $3 billion.
Thanks for the update. I knew of the company, but I don't know the network was still operating.
77 satelites. Why 77? Because marketing....
The original Iridium handsets were $2200, in 1999 money. Plus airtime charges & fees. No wonder they were only sold to the military & CEOs. Not a big enough market to sustain them.
But when your capital costs are only $25mm, you can afford the interest on that money with your current customer base.
And then the cost of the phones dropped because of higher integration & Chinese manufacturing. They're now between $800 and $1200. So they're showing growth, which is what Wall Street wants to see so they got loans for the $3bn satellite replacement. It doesn't hurt that SpaceX was half the cost of Boeing to launch.
October 9th, 2017 9:50am
Isn't the market for sat phones shrinking rapidly as the cell network expands?
Sales went up a lot after Katrina showed that the entire grid goes down easily across an entire region, making emergency response efforts near impossible to those with cell phones.
Cells also don't work at all more than a few miles off shore.
And only work in certain areas in most of the world like Africa, Iraq, etc - or are dependent on local networks you can't trust the security of, or use some different cell technology than yours.
Nothing but growth in this field.
Yep. Satellites always have solar power. No towers needed.
The service is no substitute for WiFi though - throughput is like 500kbps and you will pay serious money just for that.
October 9th, 2017 1:32pm
It's great for the North Pole, Antarctica, and Mount Everest, where normal cell-phone coverage is non-existent.
Choice between Sat-Phone and Cell-Phone by cost? No-brainer.
Choice between Sat-Phone and nothing because geography? That's why you pay the big bucks, but only if you have to.