Science and Business; June 1994; Scientific American Magazine; by Stix; 3 Page(s)
The proposal by Teledesic in Kirkland, Wash., to launch an 840-satellite communications network bears a peculiarly American imprimatur: an appeal to the utopian strain in the national character and a confidence that no vision is beyond the reach of innovation and hard work. But like many such utopian visions, it also manifests a grandiosity that pushes sanity--in this case, the engineering and fiscal varieties--to its limit.
The plan calls for spending $9 billion to circulate some 900 satellites (840 active and up to 84 spares) in 435-milehigh orbits to deliver telephone, video and computer data services to the entire world. That armada outnumbers by a factor of at least two all the commercial communications satellites currently in orbit.