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 FOUR
October 1992
Intramurals

One morning in early October, Bob Lovell walked into Dave Steffy's office unannounced and firmly shut the door. His face looked strained and drawn.

Too many development projects springing up simultaneously splintered his attention across a range of problems that proved much too costly at this early stage of the space division's existence. He shared his week's schedule briefly as soon as he sat down, beginning with a flight to London to shore up contractual and engineering nits over the purchase and rehabilitation of a hefty L-1011 airplane needed for future Pegasus launches. Without a regular stream of Orbcomm payments, he explained, even though the satellite builders were falling behind schedule, the company would have trouble purchasing the L-1011.

Obviously, news that Steffy's team would slip the July '93 launch date had serious repercussions. Timing, after all, was critical.

Looking across the top of his spectacles, Lovell said; "Sometimes engineers have technical strengths and miss the business impact, Dave. And that can get you in a ton of trouble."

Lovell was at least twenty years older than Steffy, a handsome, plainspoken, rough-hewn gentleman with impeccable credentials and excellent connections. During his career at NASA, he had coordinated the development of the world's first international satellite search-and-rescue system, known as COSPAS/SARSAT, and bid the first contracts on technological experiments that became the basis for Motorola's Iridium constellation, now emerging,

-52-

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