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  • 1987

The concept for the Iridium system is proposed by Motorola engineers Ray Leopold, Ken Peterson, and Bary Bertiger. They envision a constellation of low orbiting satellites. Research and development begins.

  • 1988

The Iridium gateway concept is developed. The Iridium satellite constellation will interface with existing terrestrial telephone systems around the world through a number of ground station gateways.

  • 1990

The Iridium system is announced at simultaneous press conferences in Beijing, London, Melbourne, and New York City. Iridium unveils its revolutionary concept for global personal communications: to link existing terrestrial telephone networks, using the Iridium satellite constellation as a base.

  • 1991

Motorola incorporates Iridium as a separate company to develop and deploy the network. The U.S. government reserves radio frequencies for the Iridium low orbit satellites.

  • 1992

The World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC) in Torremolinos, Spain takes the first regulatory step toward building the Iridium system, by determining that a global regulatory body is the proper forum for determining worldwide radio-spectrum rights. An experimental license for the Iridium system is granted by the U.S. government Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Iridium signs a US$3.37 billion contract with Motorola for system development, construction, and delivery. Motorola becomes the prime contractor supplying satellites, gateways, and communication products for the Iridium system. Iridium proposes "multi-mode" phones that access existing cellular systems, as well as the Iridium satellite constellation.

  • 1993

Iridium completes the first round of financing, securing US$800 million in equity. The first meeting of the board of directors of Iridium takes place.

  • 1994

Iridium, Inc. successfully completes the second round of equity financing, bringing the total raised capital to US$1.6 billion. The U.S. Federal Communications Department issues a "Report and Order" prior to granting an operating license. The waiver allows Motorola to procure long-lead hardware for system construction.

  • 1995

The U.S. Federal Communications Department grants an operational license for the Iridium system. The date for commercial activation of the Iridium system is set for 1998. Iridium files a registration statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The Iridium board of directors adopts the Iridium Global Ownership program. A generic design is created for the ground station gateways, and 11 gateway contracts are signed with investor organizations. In October, the first Iridium satellite flight bus subsystem is delivered by Lockheed Martin to Motorola Satellite Commmunication facilities in Chandler, Arizona, USA.

  • 1996

US$315 million in additional investor funding is secured, bringing the total project support to US$1.9 billion. Iridium selects Chase and BZW banks as arrangers of senior credit facilities, and to help complete a US$750 million bank credit facility. The first complete Iridium satellite is delivered by Motorola. The first ground station gateway is inaugurated in Japan. Construction is completed on the Iridium Satellite Network Operations Center, located in Leesburg, Virginia, USA. Iridium agrees with other mobile satellite service providers to a frequency-use plan, allowing them to cooperate in efforts to secure global authorizations for radio-frequency spectrum use. Dr. Edward F. Staiano is appointed Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Iridium.

  • 1997

Iridium places 47 satellites into orbit successfully. Iridium receives authorization from national governments to proceed with the construction and testing of nine ground station gateways. Iridium board members receive the first Iridium pager message delivered by orbiting satellites. Kyocera signs an agreement to develop and market wireless phones for the Iridium system. Iridium offers a total of US$240 million in stock through an initial public offering. Iridium World Communications Ltd. (NASDAQ: IRID) is established. Iridium LLC completes US$800 million in debt financing, representing full funding through the beginning of commercial operation. Iridium LLC selects AlliedSignal as its aeronautical strategic partner to develop global wireless telecommunications for aircraft passengers and crew.

  • 1998

Iridium completes the constellation of 66 satellites with 100 percent launch success. Sprint Telecenters is selected to manage Iridium global customer care centers. An additional US$350 million in high yield bonds is secured. After extensive testing, the Iridium system enters commercial service on November 1. Iridium donates telephones and airtime to Central American relief efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch.

  • 1999

Relief organizations in the Balkans receive free Iridium telephones and airtime as they address the Kosovo refugee crisis. With the completion of system deployment and commercialization, Dr. Edward F. Staiano resigns as CEO and vice chairman. John Richardson, CEO of Iridium Africa Corporation, is appointed interim CEO and vice chairman.

Iridium LLC announced that it is pursuing a comprehensive financial restructuring through a voluntary Chapter 11 filing in the United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The major stakeholders in this restructuring -- banks, bondholders and Iridium's strategic partners -- have voiced support for this course of action. Iridium believes they will continue to cooperate during this process.


The Iridium system requires 66 active satellites in orbit to complete its constellation and spare satellites are kept in-orbit to serve in case of failure. The satellites are in six polar low Earth orbital planes at a height of approximately 485 miles (780 km). Satellites communicate with neighboring satellites via Ka band intersatellite links to relay communications to and from ground stations. Most of these satellites were launched in the late 1990s before the company went through bankruptcy. Since the bankruptcy, only seven additional satellites have been launched but an updated constellation of 66 satellites called Iridium NEXT is currently being developed


Hasan M bin Laden served as a director of the Iridium Middle East Corp. since January 1996.

Blair Buys New Home Next to Bin Laden Property in Arab Area in London, Oct 21, 2004: Many of the Arabs that live in the area talk about the 50-year-old Hasan Bin Laden, who is only a year younger than his brother Osama. He lives with his British wife and children in an apartment not far from Blair's new home. In summer he and his family from Saudi Arabia stay in the apartment. A British Lebanese who owns a commercial place only 40 feet away from Blair's new home, said Hasan can see Blair's new home through his window. He said he was a friend of Hasan and sometimes the two of them would go out to restaurants.


An Iridium Director was Atilano de Oms Sobrinho. Later a director of Innovida. Innovida attracted curious investors. Mr. Engin Yesil allegedly invested $6 million and was a Star Island neighbour of founder Claudio Osario. Yesil has a conviction for "aiding the distribution of cocaine" from 1990. He has been described as "shady." Another investor, allegedly of $1 million, was well connected Harlan Waksal, friend of Martha Stewart. In February 1981, Harlan Waksal, a medical resident at Tufts, was arrested in the Fort Lauderdale International Airport with more than two pounds of cocaine stashed in his underwear and carry-on bag. Innovida board included Miami condo king Jorge Perez, ex Florida Govenor Jeb Bush, Gen Wesley Clark and Bill Clinton's friend, Chris Korge.

In 2010 Claudio Osario even managed to persuade the White House to facilitate a $10 million contract to Innovida through the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), a US government agency that funds various international projects.


Iridium customer testimonials: Shortly after the World Trade Towers were struck, Verizon lost all service from their West Street Central switching office. Most carriers took some time to restore even basic level of service. In the midst of all of this, my concern was for my co-workers and friends. My cell phone was essentially useless, as was our landline home line. I walked out to a clear area on our street and turned on my Iridium handset. It quickly responded with "Registered" and the signal came up. I called the main number and one of my co-workers answered the call, the call went through.


Irridium confirmed that Hasan bin Laden is a director of the Irridium Middle East Corp subsidiary and that the Saudi bin Laden Group, the family's investment arm, has put money into the global phone link firm.

A Saudi Bin Laden wesbite domain name expired September 11 2001


Mr. Leo Mondale, nephew of the former vice president, was the first employee of Iridium and is the Senior Vice President, Strategic Planning for Iridium LLC. Before joining Motorola, he was a Vice President at Fairchild Space and Defense Corporation where he was responsible for the international and commercial activities of Fairchild Space from 1989 to 1990. Prior to joining Fairchild, Mr. Mondale was Legal Counsel to the then Space Division of Matra, S.A. (now Matra-Marconi Space, N.V.), based in Paris, France, following several years of private legal practice in Washington, D.C. Mondale has guided the marketing, strategic planning, and government affairs disciplines within the company since its inception.


A Russian organized crime figure, Clinton White House guest Grigor Loutchansky, is a player in Iridium's telecommunication plan, according to a congressional investigator. Loutchansky, suspected of trafficking in nuclear materials, could have been interested in the Sockowitz folder called "Uranium from Russia," which may have contained details on US efforts to purchase left over weapons-grade uranium from Russia and revealed where 1,000 tons of such uranium may be stored.


Iridium LLC tried to buy Claircom Communications Group Inc in 1999

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