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Motorola to De-orbit Iridium Constellation
from ARRL Members Web Site

NEWINGTON, CT, Aug 24, 2000--Motorola says it plans to start destroying the 66 satellites of the Iridium satellite telephone constellation, possibly as early as tomorrow. The company is said to be putting together a final timetable to bring down the failed system of low-Earth-orbiting satellites.

Iridium informed its remaining subscribers this week that service would be terminated as of this morning, except for calls within the Iridium system and a few other exceptions.

Motorola will decommission the constellation by sending each of the nearly 1500-pound satellites into Earth’s atmosphere, where they are expected to burn up.

The demise of the bankrupt Iridium system follows last-ditch efforts to find a buyer for the system or to convert it to some other use that would generate sufficient revenue to support its upkeep. One potential suitor, New York investment bank Castle Harlan, recently abandoned its plans to buy the Iridium assets for $50 million. Castle Harlan was quoted as saying the proposed business is too weak to save even at that bargain-basement purchase price. While in operation, Iridium drew only 55,000 subscribers. The company filed for bankruptcy last year. 

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