Local institutions such as the National Zoo and the International Spy Museum are juuuuuuust beginning to open back up amid the coronavirus pandemic. But if you’re not comfy being around other people in public yet, Iridium Communications has something neat for you: The McLean, Virginia-based satellite constellation operator has launched an online museum to commemorate its work over the past 20 years.
Iridium, which developed a mobile voice and data satellite communications network, created the the Iridium Online Museum as it commemorates its “rebirth” on July 31, 2000. This was a time when Iridium faced challenges with its original business plan and pivoted to evolve into what it is today.
“We’ve developed a lot of wisdom as a result of our history, and we want others to learn from the path we carved and appreciate, understand, and be inspired by Iridium’s story,” said Iridium CEO Matt Desch in a statement. “The audacity of the vision, the challenges the company went through, the milestones along the way, and the people that have been involved should be celebrated.”
When Iridium was first founded, the company intended to provide a single service from low Earth orbit — but, according to a press release, the business model failed. Iridium now manages a full satellite network that enables people to stay digitally connected in real time from any location, including over the oceans and polar regions.
Online museum visitors can walk through this timeline (virtually) with videos, photos and artifacts to see how Iridium has grown to host more than 1.3 million users on its platform.
— Iridium (@IridiumComm) August 1, 2020
Within the interactive platform, visitors can see the vehicles that carried some of the first-generation Iridium satellites and the steps the company took to launch its second constellation. Visitors will eventually be able to upload and share their own stories and media clips to contribute to Iridium’s history.
The Iridium Online Museum’s launch comes after the company completed its $3 billion satellite constellation upgrade campaign, Iridium NEXT, early last year. This was a decade-long upgrade process both in space and on the ground that included the installation of 66 crosslinked satellites that create a web of coverage around the entire planet.-30-
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