Silicon Sky: How One Small Start-Up Went over the Top to Beat the Big Boys into Satellite Heaven

By Gary Dorsey | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
January 1992
Microsoft in Microspace

Canada geese rose over a thin strand of pine trees, eased out of formation, and glided quietly down into a clear, cold, man-made pond. A frigid, windy afternoon, the day had brought word of fourth-quarter profits, new business, and a return to the heavens. From the bright panorama of David Thompson's second-floor wall of windows, I watched the impressive gaggle gather itself and again take flight, joining pluming trails of jetliners and clusters of gossamer clouds crossing our line of sight.

From the height where he worked, the wintry sky appeared gray and glossy with a sheen like Polarized glass. A few months before the first full crew of Freshouts joined the company, the chief executive officer could not point to the position of a single working satellite bearing the name Orbital. He had no spacecraft control center at his command, few engineers in his labs.

The sky was merely a sketch pad; the bright canopy beyond the window, imaginary terrain.

"Look," he said.

The first satellite broke from the east across ragged treetops and rose like a moon. It vanished. Another hurtled from the north, sped upward, just as a third streaked overhead, crisscrossed paths with a fourth, then disappeared. Ten more flew by. Fourteen. Twenty-six.

I tried to imagine it for myself—twenty-six satellites scratching paths across the skyline.

For more than five years, Thompson had planned an intricately crafted webwork almost within sight, a constellation of Earth-swarming satellites

-1-

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