I ran into this bad boy in the cafeteria of the Challenger Space Museum in Peoria, AZ. This shiny thing is a model of the Iridium Satellite created by Intel to service satellite phones, pagers and integrated transceivers over the entire earth’s surface. Were it not busy keeping watch over the vending machines and bad sandwiches at the museum, this satellite might be managing up to 1100 concurrent phone calls. Some of these bad boys have tumbled to earth and in one case, collided with a defunct Russian satellite the Kosmos 2251. The debris from the spectacular explosion could apparently be seen from several US cities. In any case, this thing is BIG. Here’s the stats:
OPERATING location: Low earth orbit–approximate height 485 mi and inclination of 86.4
CURRENT location: Nondescript museum eatery
Weight: Over 1500 lbs.
Conclusion: An Iridium communications satellite weighs more than me.