SpaceX to launch Globalstar satellites in $64M deal, supported by Apple

SpaceX to launch Globalstar satellites in $64M deal, supported by Apple
Emergency SOS via Satellite, a crucial feature introduced with the iPhone 14 Series, has proven its immense value, often playing a vital role in life-saving situations. We know stories about how the use of the feature saved a woman and her dog from a flash flood or how it called firefighters to a Canadian island. The stories are plenty, and now, they might get even more as Emergency SOS via Satellite could soon expand its coverage.

According to regulatory filings (via TechCrunch), Globalstar, a satellite network operator supported by Apple, has purchased SpaceX launch services valued at $64 million. This amount is reportedly for the launch of the first set of satellites Globalstar ordered last year from MDA, one of the largest independent suppliers of satellite subsystems.

Globalstar has inked a $327 million deal with MDA for 17 new satellites destined for low Earth orbit (LEO) and aimed at bolstering Globalstar's current satellite constellation. These upcoming satellite launches will be pivotal in the expansion of Globalstar's emergency SOS services.

Apple has agreed to refund 95% of the constellation expenses, which include manufacturing and launch costs, to Globalstar. The tech giant is also providing Globalstar with a $252 million loan to assist in covering upfront expenses.

As part of the agreement, Apple will utilize 85% of the new network's capacity to enhance satellite services launched last year with iPhone 14. These services enable iPhones to connect with one of Globalstar's 24 existing satellites for emergency assistance when cell towers are unavailable. The Emergency SOS via Satellite feature is also expected in the upcoming iPhone 15 Series, which we will see next week.

The new contract between Globalstar and SpaceX showcases SpaceX's significant influence in orbital launches, given its near-monopoly status in the industry. Elon Musk’s company is also exploring the possibility of delivering direct connectivity to mainstream phones through its Starlink broadband constellation, which operates in low Earth orbit (LEO).

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SpaceX is pursuing regulatory approval in the US to acquire additional spectrum, potentially for a mobile Starlink satellite service. This includes frequencies in the 1.6 GHz and 2.4 GHz spectrum bands, which are used by Globalstar. If this approval is granted, it would mean SpaceX and Globalstar will be competing against each other in this area.

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