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When Iridium Satellites Collide

Remember Iridium, the satellite phone that was supposed to bring global phone connectivity with a $10,000 handset for $10 per minute, provided you were calling from outdoors from an open location? It went bankrupt, taking $7 billion in investor capital with it.

To avoid the spectacle of de-orbiting, basically crashing and burning some 70-odd satellites in the atmosphere with unknown consequences (and wrecking a very expensive and good service for things like emergency response and military), the company was revived by private equity for a mere $25 million. The service still requires users to be in the line of sight of a satellite, but prices are lower, only $1-2 per minute for a phone call and it still works anywhere in the world, well almost anywhere until now . . .

It seems that yesterday gave us a small, albeit exciting preview of what that de-orbiting might have been like. An Iridium satellite crashed in to a non-functioning Russian satellite in low earth orbit. No service outages, injuries or any earth visible effects are reported. Iridium satellites are known for Iridium flares (reflections of the sun from their solar panels as they orbit), bit there are no fireworks from this incident. Perhaps an enterprising personal injury lawyer is on his or her way to Tempe, Arizona to pitch a lawsuit idea to the Iridium people as we speak?

. . . And that’s how it goes

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