Satellite communications operator covering the entire earth's surface. It was planned that the system would include 77 satellites. Hence the name - Iridium, the 77th element of the Periodic Table of Mendeleev. True, things never came to 77 - at the moment about 66 satellites are used (not counting several reserve ones), with masses of 700 kg each, located in orbits with a height of 780 km. Each of these satellites makes one revolution around the Earth every 100 hours. In subsequent years, the number of satellites is planned to be increased.
According to legend, the system owes its origin to Karen Bertiger, who in 1985 convinced her husband of the need to create a mobile communication that allows you to call from anywhere on Earth to any other point, regardless of their location. Her husband, Bary Bertiger, was the company's chief executive at the time. Motorolawhich was then on the rise.
Development has begun. The company's engineers had to solve many specific problems, which they brilliantly coped with. For example, it was decided to use low-orbit satellites. Of course, in this case, the number of satellites increased significantly, but their cost was much lower, easier maintenance and launch into orbit.
The company was founded in 1991 Iridium Inc.wholly owned Motorola. Over time, most of the company was bought up by various companies that wished to become investors. However, most of it still belonged to the parent company. Investors received the rights to provide communication services in predetermined regions. Investors were found in all countries - Japan, Germany, Russia and many others. By agreement, investors had to independently ensure the system's performance in the regions assigned to them - the purchase, installation, configuration and support of all the necessary equipment, as well as all other nuances. The launch of satellites, their maintenance and the creation of the necessary equipment was carried out by Motorola.
| Satellite phone Iridium 9555|
(image from the official site)
Name changed in 1996 Iridium Inc. in Iridium LLC. By that time, not only technical, but also most of the legal and financial issues had been resolved. 47 satellites were put into orbit. The system was put into operation on November 1, 1998.
A year later, the system declared bankruptcy - losses more than 500 times exceeded income. Wrong marketing ruined what seemed at the beginning such a profitable enterprise. The main reason for the bankruptcy was the high cost of services - one minute of conversation cost about 7 US dollars, despite the fact that it was also necessary to purchase too expensive equipment.
Creators Iridium decided to destroy the system that did not justify itself. It was planned to bring the satellites to the so-called "satellite graveyard" - the burial orbit. However, as a result, the system, for almost a meager amount, was bought by the American government represented by the Pentagon. The military decided that they could not hurt the communication available everywhere. Well, to reduce the cost of operating the system to a minimum, commercial use Iridium was continued.
Since then, the system has been constantly improved. For example, in 2003, users had the opportunity to send short text messages - SMS. The main advantages of Iridium remain the same - the ability to call anywhere in the world at a single rate, the absence of roaming and confusion with different communication standards. The main competitor is GlobalSat, a system that is much cheaper to use, but does not provide total coverage.
Satellite phones resemble ancient mobile phones, often equipped with a massive antenna. These devices are devoid of color screens and are never overloaded with unnecessary features. Some of them, when changing special modules (so-called cartridges), are able to work both with satellite networks and in cellular networks. Their main producers are Motorola и Kyocera. There are also devices designed for installation in cars, yachts, aircraft and other modes of transport.
Phone numbers start with: +8816 or +8817. The number of subscribers of the system exceeds hundreds of thousands. The cost of a call has decreased significantly and is approximately $1 per minute.
headquarters Iridium Satellite LLC is located in Bethesda, Maryland, United States.