Iridium Bankrupt, Cassini, and Astronaut Collins
Tue, 17 Aug 1999 20:54:21 EDT

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*** Iridium consortium files Chapter 11

NEW YORK (AP) - Iridium LLC, the ambitious satellite-based mobile
phone network, is finally relenting to the call of bankruptcy court.
With a shove from its creditors and a reassuring nod from parental
guardian Motorola, the consortium announced Friday that it would
restructure a crushing $3 billion debt load under Chapter 11 of the
federal bankruptcy code. The move hardly came as a surprise, since
there was no chance the venture would meet the subscriber targets
stipulated by its loan agreements. Many observers were expecting that
Iridium would miss a $90 million interest payment due Sunday. See

*** Cassini to buzz Earth on Saturn trip

PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - A two-story, $3.4 billion spacecraft carrying
a load of deadly plutonium will zoom within 725 miles of Earth this
week to gain momentum for the final leg of its meandering, seven-year
voyage to Saturn. Cassini's return, two years after NASA launched the
largest and most expensive unmanned spacecraft ever, poses virtually
no risk, mission officials say. But anti-nuclear activists, concerned
over the 72 pounds of carcinogenic cargo, aren't so sure. "The fact
is space technology can and does fail," said Bruce Gagnon of the
Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. "And when
you start using nuclear materials in increasing numbers, the odds of
an accident increase." See
*** Also: 'Gravity assist' helps Cassini fly, see

*** Launch makes Collins more celebrated

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - Eileen Collins used her strongest,
loudest voice when Columbia's master alarm went off, just seconds
into what proved to be the most menacing space shuttle launch in
years. Problem with a fuel cell, she called to Mission Control. Her
voice was muffled by the roaring rockets and rattled by the fierce
vibration. Many bystanders froze, fearful of what was happening. The
42-year-old Air Force colonel has listened to the launch tape many
times since returning from the successful telescope-delivery mission.
And she admits her voice sounds surprisingly faint and light, perhaps
because it's female. Until Collins' debut as America's first female
space commander July 23, only male voices boomed from the cockpit
during liftoff. See