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The detailed history of satellite phones may sound like a subject better suited
to an MBA class than a fast paced story to read on a plane, but prepare
to be amazed. Bloom’s retelling of the idea, creation, and near destruction
of one of mankind’s greatest achievement is packed full of corporate
espionage, cold war negotiations, and very rich people spending their
money on the most extreme ideas.
— Justin, Atlanta
In the early 1990s, Motorola, the legendary American radio and telecom company, made a huge gamble on a revolutionary satellite telephone system called Iridium. Light-years ahead of anything previously put into space, built on technology for Ronald Reagan's "Star Wars," Iridium was a mind-boggling technical accomplishment that sent waves of panic through phone companies around the world, because, surely, Iridium was the future of communication. Only months after launching service, bankruptcy was inevitable--the largest to that point in American history. It looked like Iridium would go down as just a "science experiment."
That is, until Dan Colussy got a wild idea. Colussy, a retired former President of Pan Am, heard about Motorola's plans to "de-orbit" the system and decided he would try to buy Iridium. Somehow, the little guy figured he could turn around one of the biggest blunders in the history of business. Eccentric Orbits
masterfully traces the development of satellite technology, the birth of Iridium, and Colussy's tireless efforts to stop it from being destroyed, despite having doors slammed in his face by all of Wall Street. Piecing together funding from a motley group of investors that included a mysterious Arab prince and friends of Jesse Jackson, he eventually made his case before the most powerful people at the Clinton White House, the Pentagon, the FCC, intelligence services, and a consortium of thirty banks, pleading for the only phone that works at the ends of earth. Eccentric Orbits
is a rollicking, unforgettable tale of innovation, failure, the military-industrial complex, and one of the greatest deals of all time.