News FocusRadio Astronomy

Iridium Accelerates Squeeze on the Spectrum

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Science  02 Oct 1998:
Vol. 282, Issue 5386, pp. 34-35
DOI: 10.1126/science.282.5386.34

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Celestial signals at a growing number of important points along the radio spectrum are being blocked from Earth-bound telescopes by a blanket of electromagnetic smog laid down by communications satellites. This fall, in the latest round in a long-running battle over the radio spectrum being waged between radio astronomers and telecommunications companies, that blanket will grow thicker when the mobile phone company Iridium LLC turns on a $5 billion, globe-girdling fleet of 66 satellites. Within a few years, at least 100 other communications satellites are due to be launched; some of these new platforms will interfere with stellar signals unless government officials intervene, observers say.