Welcome to Quartz’s newsletter on the economic potential of space. Please forward widely and let me know what you think. This week: Most Mysterious Satellite Customer, Boeing vs. Aerojet, and Russia Hack ViaSat.
Rumors spread after Global Star, which specializes in operating satellites shyly announce This week’s agreement with a “large global customer” to build a new communications network, just months after it was announced that an unidentified “potential customer” had paid more than $300 million to fund the purchase of 13 new satellites.
Analysts believe that the customer is a single entity. The loose idea is that Apple is behind these deals, with the goal of using Globalstar to provide satellite connectivity to the iPhone in the future. Globalstar says it has been working with this customer since 2020 “in connection with the evaluation of a potential service that uses some of our assets and capabilities.”
Why Apple? In 2021, Bloomberg News Quoted anonymous sources To report that Apple was considering adding satellite-enabled connections to its mobile devices. Whatever the client, they’ve already only paid about $430 million in “evaluation” of a potential service, so they must have big pockets. However, Globalstar has partnered with both Nokia and Qualcomm before, both of which qualify as major global customers.
Why Globalstar? This is a more interesting question. It’s not a very successful satellite company, it has lost more than $1.5 billion in the past decade, with its stock trading at about $1 a share. Its main activity is to provide low-bandwidth communication services, such as text messages and data relays with IoT devices. What it does have is a license to work on a valuable piece of the spectrum.
Globalstar’s exclusive electromagnetic properties are located close to frequencies for terrestrial use. While previous efforts to Make money from this spectrum Faced with regulatory barriers, they remain theoretically valuable. “Everyone in the space industry is getting a lot of attention,” says Caleb Henry, senior analyst at Quilty Analytics, because it promises the ability to connect affordable cell phones to both mobile towers and satellites.
While most populated areas have reliable cellular coverage, satellite communication can be useful in rural areas or while traveling. Satellite operators are excited about the opportunity to tap into the much larger terrestrial communications market, and other companies, such as AST SpaceMobile and Lynx, are working on their own plans to connect mobile phones to satellite networks.
The applications could be for emergency messaging and location tracking, or for regular text messages, when the user has exceeded the reach of terrestrial networks. Based on Globalstar’s current satellite network, it’s not likely to provide bandwidth for phone calls right away.
If the deal with the potential client becomes a de facto partnership with a major mobile maker like Apple, it would be a huge comeback — and a surprising validation for Globalstar Chairman Jay Monroe, who bought the company after bankruptcy in 2004 and financed it through years of losses.
Cosmonauts, Oleg Artemyev and Denis Matveev, donned spacesuits to activate a new robotic arm on the International Space Station in April.
You are completely replaceable. Once upon a time, the specter of overpopulation loomed large in our collective consciousness. But the Earth’s population growth actually peaked decades ago, and this century could come to a complete halt. To understand how, you have to look at the “replacement rate”. Learn more with This week’s episode From the Quartz Mania podcast.
The struggle over Boeing’s costly valve failure. Reuters Joey Rowlett Conflict Reports Behind Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which experienced delays due to problems with valves in the propulsion system. These valves are built by Aerojet, the two companies are shedding the blame for their failure, and NASA appears to be on Boeing’s side. The Starliner program has lost nearly $600 million from Boeing so far, and wants Aerojet to cover part of that cost, even while the US space agency awaits the final design.
another scoop Got everyone’s attention He was reporting a horrific accident in 2017 that injured a Boeing subcontractor and resulted in the amputation of his leg. If you become aware of a safety issue that hasn’t been previously reported with an airline, feel free to call and ask for my Signal number.
Russia hacks an American satellite. Researchers have confirmed that before Russia invaded Ukraine, its hackers They broke into a communications satellite It is operated by the US company ViaSat and used by the Ukrainian military. The attack destroyed thousands of satellite stations, as well as thousands of wind turbines in Germany, underscoring the importance of satellite communications for global infrastructure.
Virgin Orbit plans to launch in the UK. The Richard Branson and SPAC’d-backed company, which uses rockets launched from modified 747s to put satellites into orbit, plans to First assignment from the UK, with a payload from the National Reconnaissance Office, a United States intelligence agency. It will be the first private space launch in Western Europe.
Does your kano drown? The electric vehicle company that NASA selected to provide a vehicle to carry lunar-bound astronauts to the launch pad said it was in service. Danger out of work. Canoo’s selection was considered a bit odd, given the company’s lack of a track record, but the vehicles won’t be needed until 2024 or so. NASA is trying to replacestrophan“which served the Shuttle program with a more modern vehicle. For those tracking an astronaut’s ground transportation at home, SpaceX Prefer Teslablue origin Uses Amazon-supported Rivian vehiclesVirgin Galactic owns Range Rovers (and Bicycle travel time), while Boeing is developingAstrophan II. “
A worthwhile Canadian initiative. Canada Join the United States in adopting a Banning anti-satellite weapons testing that generate debris in orbit. Although Canada has not done so before, the announcement may help build consensus at the meeting of the UN-sponsored working group that is trying to adopt new safety standards in orbit. Jessica West, who studies space security issues at Plougshares, an arms control group, has been Tweet what’s going on At the meeting, reports the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the Republic of Korea and Ireland expressed their support for a ban on anti-satellite weapons without full approval of it.
This was the 132nd issue of our newsletter. I hope your week is out of this world! Please send all Globalstar rumors, unreported airline accidents, tips and informed opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org.