Iridium launches online museum to commemorate 20th anniversary milestone, educate and preserve its unique history

Source: press release, 31 July 2020

The Iridium Online Museum offers a variety of interactive modules
The Iridium Online Museum offers a variety of interactive modules (illustration: Iridium)

Iridium Communications Inc. has unveiled the Iridium Online Museum, celebrating the challenges and successes of an audacious idea that initially failed, but ultimately succeeded and achieved its vision, inspiring a resurgence in commercial interest in space. The launch of the museum is timely, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the first legal steps taken towards Iridium’s rebirth as a modern company, on July 31, 2000. As Iridium continues its legacy of innovation and enters a new chapter of its story following the success of the Iridium® NEXT launch program, continued growth, and financial transformation, the interactive website commemorates the Company’s unique history and offers lessons for other current and future endeavours.

The Iridium Online Museum celebrates the entire arc of Iridium’s history, including the very public initial challenges of both its creation and business plan, which was based on providing a single service from Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Amidst great expectations, the constellation was a technological success but failed dramatically from a business point of view. Visitors can go back in time to learn about Iridium’s journey of inventing the first communications system covering the whole planet, to its eventual business success as a multi-service innovation platform with more than 1.3 million users and hundreds of technology partners. The museum explores the evolution of the company through archives of videos, photos and artifacts, and details Iridium’s presence in pop culture and academia throughout the years.

With a variety of interactive modules, visitors can get a detailed look at the Delta II launch vehicle that carried some of the first-generation Iridium satellites and learn about rocket stage and fairing separations. They can also go through the different steps of launching the company’s second constellation, such as executing a slot swap, safely deorbiting the original satellites and activating new services. Iridium flare lovers can revisit some of the iconic images that captured the imaginations of people around the world with the commemorative #flarewell module. And as the museum continues to evolve, visitors will be able to upload media and share their own Iridium stories for the chance to contribute to Iridium’s history.

“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,” says Matt Desch, CEO at Iridium. “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.”

The Iridium Online Museum is a tribute to the thousands of people who have been associated with Iridium over the years. Not just former employees or current associates, but those connected with the Iridium ecosystem of hundreds of companies developing solutions for many different business segments. It is also for individuals who have followed and supported Iridium’s journey, and risk-takers inspired to create the next big idea.