Apple-Backed Satellites to be Launched by SpaceX
Globalstar announced on August 30 in a regulatory filing that it has contracted Elon Musk’s SpaceX for a $64 million deal to launch satellites in 2025. These satellites, which are a part of Globalstar’s low Earth orbit (LEO) connectivity constellation, are backed by Apple.
The reason? iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro offer the ability to send SOS messages to emergency services through satellite when you’re without Wi-Fi or cellular service. Additionally, these models let you share your location with others using the Find My app, also via satellite. This service leverages 24 existing Globalstar satellites and now Apple wants more in the skies, reports Nola.
The new satellites are being manufactured by MDA, which has subcontracted Rocket Lab to provide the chassis. Globalstar’s $327 million manufacturing contract with MDA includes 17 satellites slated for delivery in 2025. The deal also comes with an option for up to nine additional satellites, at $11.4 million each.
Apple has agreed to fund 95% of the cost of the new satellite constellation, including both manufacturing and launch expenses. The iPhone maker is offering Globalstar a $252 million loan to cover upfront costs. In exchange, Apple will leverage 85% of the new network’s capacity to enhance satellite services for its Emergency SOS service.
Globalstar plans to use the remaining capacity for its legacy services, which include specialized satellite phones and tracking devices.
In a related development, SpaceX is pursuing its own ambitions for mass-market phone connectivity through its Starlink broadband constellation in low Earth orbit. The company is currently seeking regulatory approval for additional spectrum to extend its Starlink services to mobile phones, including frequencies used by Globalstar.
The Apple-Globalstar-SpaceX collaboration marks a significant step in the expanding field of satellite communications and has implications for consumer connectivity far beyond traditional mobile networks.