Iridium, the global voice and data mobile satellite service provider, raised more than $400 million in February and recently announced a complex merger with GHL Acquisition, a company sponsored by Greenhill and Company. The deal’s complexity was underscored by the fact it needed a seven-page press release to explain it.

The cash will help Iridium move forward with the launch of its NEXT-generation satellite system, which should get under way in 2013. Iridium is working with Lockheed Martin and Thales Alenia Space on the design of the new spacecraft.

The existing 66 (plus eight spares) satellite system will continue to provide worldwide coverage through to at least 2013-14.

Iridium scores by having low-earth orbiting satellites in polar orbits, giving a truly global coverage into areas that geostationary providers can only dream about.

Dan Thoma - Iridium

As Don Thoma, Iridium’s executive vice president, marketing, says: “The NEXT generation Iridium constellation will be backwards-compatible, but also offer data transfer speeds of up to 1Mb/sec. It will have an IP-based architecture, which means it will interface easily with all manner of ground and air-based systems.

“Meantime, Iridium continues to expand with a 48% growth this year alone. There are now more than 18,000 Iridium-capable devices on aircraft and our 300,000 customer base extends to the US Department of Defense, US and International Government agencies, as well as customers in a broad range of sectors.”

Iridium may have a checkered financial past - Forbes magazine once described it as a “$5 billion flop” - but Thoma says the company can still beat other providers hands down, providing more coverage at lower costs.

Source: Flight Daily News