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Innovation is often cited as native to the American character. The ability to recognize an opportunity and exploit it with a unique idea has been the cornerstone of American progress for more than two centuries and remains the driving impulse behind today’s tech revolution.
In 2006, the principals behind the Iridium satellite telephone enterprise came up with an innovative idea: Lease excess capacity on its planned second-generation communication satellites to host the payloads of others looking for a global perspective from space. Among the entities they investigated were various U.S. government agencies including the FAA, where they learned of an interest in hosting an air traffic control payload aboard orbiting satellites and that Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) had become the paradigm for ATC on the ground.