Re: Teledesic's satellites visibility

Jim Varney (
Wed, 14 Aug 1996 22:34:11 -0700

Bart asked:

>Also, does anyone know whether Teledesic's project is 'real' and not just a
>marketing hoax ?

A Wall Street Journal article quoted an industry observer as saying that Bill 
Gates' real motivation behind Teledesic is to corner the market on frequency
spectrum and then draw in an aerospace firm as a partner.  The first part has
happened.  If the latter happens, then I would guess Teledesic would be 
scaled back to fewer but larger satellites, maybe MEO instead of LEO, once
the aerospace firm educates Gates on the realities of the sheer cost of trying
to launch 840 LEO satellites.

As I understand it, the Teledesic satellites are supposedly to be small, cheap
and "disposible."  Being small they'll probably be dim binocular objects.  The
disposable part raises real questions about impacts on an increasingly
problematic space debris situation.

ORBCOMM will be first out of the gate.  They will have their constellation of
32 satellites up by the end of 1997 [Orbcomm 1 and Orbcomm 2 are in orbit now].  
The satellites will be in 45 degree inclination orbits, eight to a plane.  
ORBCOMM is currently constructing a backup ground facility in El Dorado Hills, 
California, which is about 25 miles east of Sacramento.  The primary facility 
is in San Jose (Bay Area).

ORBCOMM will be a reality because they are a subsidiary of Orbital Sciences.  It
helps to have a parent company that builds a low-cost and reliable ELV like

 -- Jim

Jim Varney      |  121^ 23' 54" W,  38^ 27' 28" N   |           Sacramento, CA
Member, SeeSat-L|            Elev. 31 ft.           |