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Iridium Will Host Science Payloads

New satellites will give space and wattage for Earth-sensing experiments

3 min read

Last February, in what seems an extraordinary stroke of bad luck, an Iridium communications satellite collided with a Kosmos-2251, a defunct Russian satellite, blowing both to pieces. Fortunately, Iridium was able to swap in one of the backups it maintains in orbit, swiftly restoring global coverage. But that freak event underscores the fact that the once maligned but now resurgent company needs some new satellites. Its quest to acquire them could make the company an important player in the geoscience community.

”At some point in time, if we didn’t do anything, we’d have less than 66 satellites,” says Don Thoma, Iridium’s executive vice president for marketing, referring to the minimum number of satellites needed to complete the company’s constellation. So Iridium, which has gained more than 300 000 subscribers since it emerged from bankruptcy in 2001, has embarked on an ambitious plan to begin launching a new generation of satellites, called NEXT, in 2014.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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