I just happened to be directed to this thread (which I didn't go through and read) but here is what I know of the iridium project (as I was involved
in it and was against it from the start) it is simply a global phone system that was stupid from the start. And here is where it started:
One of our engineers took a vacation with his wife to a small island that had no phone service, she was into real estate and was freaked out because
she had no contact to see how her business was going 'our' brilliant engineer thought "Why not place enough satellites around the earth so there isn't
any place you would be out of communications?" okay, he came back and talked to XXXX XXXXXX (I'm not going to use his real name here) and talked him
into it! Now, it was balzz to the wall as we ramped up to do this, the reason for the name? it was decided it would take 77 satellites to blanket the
earth,hence the clever name "Iridium" but then a little more calculating it was discovered that fewer satellites would work but it was decided to keep
the name. One of the criteria for this project was to use as much "off the shelf" products we could! And we did, we used store bought modems and the
main satellites electronics were standard PC motherboards!! I put in a lot of 12 hour days during this time as this store-bought hardware would
sometimes fail and there was a mad rush as I got a memo labeled 'ROG' which meant Rocket On Ground' (waiting for the satellite to be repaired). on the
mornings we had a launch we were sent a memo and could watch the rocket trail from here in Mesa, AZ (looking to the east).
Why did it fail? For one thing the phones were as big as a block, and was $3500 and it could not be used inside a building so there was never a market
for it (we were already the leader in Cell Phones so why this?).
After just a super short time our manager sent us a memo saying it was a complete bust and we were going to "DE-ORBIT" them (I had never heard the
word before but we had a field day with the "we told you so's!" from the start in our meeting we asked "who will buy these?" I even said in one
meeting that the military was the ONLY group I could see that it would be useful as you could call anywhere in the world directly to another Iridium
phone. Well, because of the billions (it was considered the worst mistake and costliest project any company ever made) which pretty much closed our
entire sector down and thousands of us lost our jobs!
Instead of de-orbiting them they were sold for literally pennies on the dollars so that was the end.
I found it incredible a single engineer with a hair-brained idea could make the entire company listen to him when so many of us was against it!
No conspiracies here folks, I was right in the middle of it and lost my job because of it! It was simply a stupid idea that backfired and ruined
Motorola as we knew it!
Before this fiasco there was about 35,000 Moto employees in the valley and now less than 800!
For those that know a little of what I am talking about there was an analog sector in Mesa on Dobson road churning out discreet devices from the huge
plant since 1964 and it was bull-dozed down (I was given the job of finishing up my work by wiping the hard-drives in those offices before they were
sold as salvage. (there were dozens of new air-handlers priced at over $15 million each that was scrapped even before there were used).
Hope this inside news might have helped some of you understand what and why of the entire Iridium project was developed and how it pretty much ruined
I just remembered this so I will add it: We were given the use of the SR-71 Super-Fast aircraft to fly across the country to test our first units
(probably the last time they were used). Also, there was an Antarctic Exploration going on at the time and Motorola gave them a phone to show how
useful they were and about halfway through their mission (they called daily) there were told the units were all shutting down and that was the last
call they would be able to make!
This whole things sounds like something a few geek kids dreamed up but the sad thing is this was given the blessing of the Grandson of Motorola's
founder Bob Galvin and I'm sure Robert is spinning in his grave to this day!
edit on 20-4-2012 by wulff because: (no reason given)