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Globalstar Taps SpaceX to Launch New Satellites for Apple SOS

By Rachel Jewett | September 1, 2023

      Photo: Apple/Via Satellite illustration

      Globalstar signed a launch services agreement with SpaceX to launch the first set of satellites in its SPOT network upgrade to support Apple’s emergency messaging service. The launch window is targeted for 2025, and Globalstar is paying $64 million for the launch. 

      Globalstar disclosed the launch in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Aug. 30. The document did not specify a launch vehicle. 

      Globalstar is upgrading its Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) SPOT network to support Apple’s satellite direct-to-cell emergency messaging service, which is active on its current network for the iPhone 14. Apple is paying for 95% of the upgraded network expenses including satellites and launch costs, and Globalstar has agreed to reserve 85% of its current and future network capacity to support the services.

      Canadian manufacturer MDA is building 17 new satellites for Globalstar in a $327 million contract announced in February 2022. MDA subcontracted the satellite bus to Rocket Lab. 

      The launch contract was announced soon after Globalstar named a new CEO. Former Qualcomm CEO and XCOM Labs founder Paul Jacobs is joining Globalstar as CEO, and a number of XCOM executives will take senior leadership positions as well. Globalstar pitched the changes as part of the convergence of terrestrial and satellite solutions.