Loral Space and Communications is considering selling all or part of its 45% stake in the Globalstar worldwide mobile-communications satellite system following slower than expected sales of the telephone service.

Meanwhile, Iridium prime investor Motorola has notified customers of its worldwide satellite mobile-telephone and paging services that it will cease operations on 17 March unless a buyer is found.

Loral has invested $48 million in the operational 48-satellite system, but is rethinking its investment in an effort to avoid possible losses after a slow take-up of the service.

Fellow global voice and paging communications-service provider Iridium filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last August. Iridium recently secured $3 million to keep it afloat until 17 March, but the prospect of a life-saving investment by Craig McCaw's Eagle River group disappeared earlier this month when McCaw decided not to pursue further investment in Iridium to concentrate on data service providers such as ICO Global Communications and Teledesic.

If the Iridium system is scrapped, users will be unable to use their $3,000 telephones with another satellite system. Each of the 78 Iridium satellites in low Earth orbit may be de-orbited over three months to reduce the amount of space debris and the danger of in-orbit collisions.

Source: Flight International