John Irving Bloom: “Eccentric Orbits: The Iridium Story” | Talks at Google

Published on Aug 9, 2016

Veteran investigative journalist John Bloom tells the greatest satellite story you’ve never heard, with special guests Dr. Ray Leopold and Dan Colussy.

satellite photoThe Iridium satellite constellation–dreamed up by Dr. Ray Leopold and co. in the ’90s–was intended to provide a cellular phone with signal at all ends of the Earth. As the dotcom bubble burst, and Motorola struggled to find buyers for its $5 billion project, the Iridium project was almost self-destructed out of orbit. But businessman Dan Colussy had other plans.

1:07formerly a teacher at the Air Force Academy senior staff at the Pentagon a
1:12pure scientists who helped me greatly during the writing of the book and more
1:17than for the point at this gathering the inventor of the Iridium satellite system
1:22the most complex engineering system ever put into space and Ray is the star of
1:31the first half of the book so i would you stand upright so you’re going to
1:34proceed
1:37and then we also have been kalu see the savior of a radium after the motorola
1:44corporation threatened to destroy the largest satellite constellation ever
1:48created
1:49dan is the start of the second half of the book now one of the themes running
1:53through the book is that damn was retired and playing golf in palm beach
1:58florida
1:59when all this happened in fact he was just learning to play golf because when
2:02he was younger he thought golf was just an excuse for businessmen to get off so
2:06we never learned how to play the game but after many years of running airlines
2:10and ear and a corporation called you and see that many of you might be familiar
2:14with
2:15he promised his wife he wouldn’t be running any more companies and then he
2:19keeps getting sucked back in because he can’t stand to see these satellites
2:23destroyed
2:24so this is 60 and when he was 69 years old so I i got to know Dan and he helped
2:32greatly with the book because he never throws anything away any piece of paper
2:37that ever crosses his desk he keeps it and so his archive rivals the
2:41Alexandrian library in size but it was a great resource when you’re writing a
2:45book like this where people have faulty memories or they lie about what happened
2:50which is more often the case but anyway
2:53dan might have a fool out of me because now he’s 85 85 years old and he’s
2:58running three companies so it’s not so big a deal that he that he did the
3:02Iridium thing when he was 69 but stand up dan thanks for being here today
3:06and no we have kind of a historic event because these two men had never met
3:16until about one hour ago so but anyway in nineteen ninety at the Hayden
3:23Planetarium in New York City the motorola corporation which at that time
3:28was the most powerful electronics company in the world announced the most
3:33expensive and complicated engineering project in history and it was more
3:38complicated than Los Alamos because that project was only doing one thing and