Apple-backed Globalstar inks $64M launch contract with SpaceX

Globalstar, a satellite network operator backed by Apple, has purchased launches from SpaceX worth $64 million, according to regulatory filings.

The launches, which are scheduled for 2025, will send at least 17 new satellites to low Earth orbit to replenish Globalstar’s existing constellation. Globalstar entered into a $327 million purchase agreement with MDA for those satellites in February last year, with Rocket Lab acting as subcontractor supplying the spacecraft chassis.

Apple is reimbursing Globalstar for 95% of the capital expenditures related to the satellites, including the launch costs. The consumer hardware giant also agreed to provide $252 million in funding for the upfront costs associated with replenishing the satellite constellation, as well as money to improve the satellite operator’s ground station network.

In return, Apple said it would use 85% of Globalstar’s network capacity to provide emergency satellite connectivity for iPhones outside of cellular networks.

The new contract reflects the near-monopoly SpaceX currently holds on orbital launches. SpaceX is also developing its own “sat-to-cell” plans through its Starlink satellite constellation, making it and Globalstar something of competitors. That competition became stark last year, when SpaceX filed a request with regulators for more spectrum for its Starlink, including portions of the 1.6/2.4 GHz spectrum bands that have been used exclusively by Globalstar.