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Joe Bob Briggs

The Official Home of America's Drive-In Movie Critic Extraordinaire

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John Bloom: “Eccentric Orbits” Live Book Review – October 25, 2017

Florida State University

October 25, 2017
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM

AME Auditorium, Room 106
2003 Levy Ave
Tallahassee, FL

In the early 1990s, Motorola, the legendary American technology company developed a revolutionary satellite system called Iridium that promised to be its crowning achievement. Light years ahead of anything previously put into space, and built on technology developed for Ronald Reagan’s “Star Wars,” Iridium’s constellation of 66 satellites in polar orbit meant that no matter where you were on Earth, at least one satellite was always overhead, and you could call Tibet from Fiji without a delay and without your call ever touching a wire.

Iridium the satellite system was a mind-boggling technical accomplishment, surely the future of communication. The only problem was that Iridium the company was a commercial disaster. Only months after launching service, it was $11 billion in debt, burning through $100 million a month and crippled by baroque rate plans and agreements that forced calls through Moscow, Beijing, Fucino, Italy, and elsewhere. Bankruptcy was inevitable—the largest to that point in American history. And when no real buyers seemed to materialize, it looked like Iridium would go down as just a “science experiment.”

Listen as author John Bloom masterfully traces the conception, development, and launching of Iridium and the tireless efforts to stop it from being destroyed, from meetings with his motley investor group, to the Clinton White House, to the Pentagon, to the hunt for customers in special ops, shipping, aviation, mining, search and rescue—anyone who would need a durable phone at the end of the Earth. Impeccably researched and wonderfully told, Eccentric Orbits is a rollicking, unforgettable tale of technological achievement, business failure, the military-industrial complex, and one of the greatest deals of all time.

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© 2018 Joe Bob Briggs - All Right Reserved

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Joe Bob Briggs is a film critic, writer and comic performer. He has appeared on The Tonight Show , Larry King Live and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” amongst others.

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