Satellite network operator, Globalstar, backed by tech giant Apple, has recently announced a significant partnership with SpaceX. The company has secured a launch contract worth $64 million, as revealed in regulatory filings. This strategic move is aimed at strengthening Globalstar’s existing constellation by sending at least 17 new satellites to low Earth orbit, scheduled for 2025.
This exciting venture comes after Globalstar’s agreement with MDA in February last year, where it committed $327 million for the purchase of the satellites. Rocket Lab, serving as a subcontractor, will contribute by supplying the spacecraft chassis. With Apple’s strong backing, Globalstar will be reimbursed for 95% of the capital expenditures, encompassing both the satellite costs and launch expenses.
Apple, in collaboration with Globalstar, is making significant investments to expand satellite connectivity. This will not only improve the capabilities of Globalstar’s network, but also enable Apple to provide emergency satellite connectivity to iPhones in areas without cellular coverage.
In addition to the funding provided for the satellite project, Apple has also pledged $252 million to enhance Globalstar’s ground station network and cover upfront costs associated with replenishing the satellite constellation. The aim is to ultimately utilize 85% of Globalstar’s network capacity for emergency satellite connectivity on iPhones, particularly in areas where conventional cell networks are unavailable.
This partnership highlights the dominance of SpaceX in the orbital launch market, cementing their near-monopoly status. However, there is some level of competition between SpaceX and Globalstar, as SpaceX develops its own “sat-to-cell” plans with its Starlink satellite constellation. This became particularly evident when SpaceX requested additional spectrum access, including portions of the 1.6/2.4 GHz bands exclusively used by Globalstar.
This collaboration between Apple, Globalstar, and SpaceX not only signifies the momentum in satellite communication technology but also underscores the potential for groundbreaking advancements in connectivity and network infrastructure.