Iridium network patched after collision in space

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iridium Satellite LLC said Friday it had patched a hole in its global telecommunications network caused by a collision in space with a defunct Russian military satellite.

The fix “addresses a significant portion of outages that customers otherwise might have experienced,” said Liz DeCastro, a spokeswoman for closely held Iridium.

Details were not disclosed.

The crash, about 485 miles above the Russian Arctic on Tuesday, destroyed the derelict Russian craft and one of the 66 cross-linked satellites that make up the Iridium mesh.

The company, based in Bethesda, Maryland, said it was preparing to activate one of its orbiting spares to restore the network fully.

The constellation provides voice and data services for areas not covered by ground-based communications. It counts about 300,000 clients worldwide, including the U.S. Department of Defense, maritime users and scientists at the South Pole.

Iridium declined to say if it was considering action against Russia for any negligence. Operators are expected to bring dying spacecraft back to Earth or park then in orbits out of the way of operational satellites.

“Of course, we’re still looking at the matter,” DeCastro said.

The company said Thursday it had no advance warning of the impending collision.

Reporting by Jim Wolf; Editing by Andre Grenon