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 NINETEEN
April/May 1995
I—AM—DESPERATE

Two circles slipped across the conical projection map with unbearable lightness, passing from Portugal to Cape Verde to Mombasa and Calcutta, from Seville to Cape Horn to the Spice Islands, pulsing steadily on their paths above the Earth's surface, moving with the effortless efficiency of long-distance runners.

The hands of operators flashed across mouse pads like chess masters in competition. Above their heads a projector cast a bright color image of the planet overlaid with screens from the engineers' monitors against the far wall. In the dim light telemetry gauges blinked red, yellow, and green, while black windows of agatelike code telescoped into view. As the engineers magnified data pouring in from distant Earth stations and reviewed error logs for clues, every move they made played across the far wall for the benefit of spectators shifting outside the periphery of the control room like witnesses at an execution.

"Just show me the accounts receivable screen," muttered the Orbcomm business manager, pressing his fingers against the glass, squinting into the room. Other executives crowded around, peering in as each new screen emerged, then cursed or mumbled as it vanished in a blink. Raw satellite data was, to many eyes, indecipherable.

David Thompson turned his back and leaned against the glass. His thin fingers riffled pages listing the estimated times of satellite passage above Earth stations in New York and Arizona and scanned lists to find the next scheduled pass. He had grown impatient with the process but, with nothing to do now

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