Apple is loaning satellite firm Globalstar $252 million as part of its roll-out of direct-to-phone emergency satellite services.
In a February 28 SEC filing first reported by SpaceNews, Apple is loaning Globalstar the money as a pre-payment to launch a new fleet of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
“The Prepayment replaces the company’s requirement to raise third-party financing… and will be funded on a quarterly basis, subject to certain conditions in the agreement,” Globalstar said. “The remaining amount of the satellite costs is expected to be funded from Globalstar’s operating cash flows.”
Repayment to Apple is set to begin ‘no later’ than Q3 2025 and be repaid in installments across 16 quarters.
In September 2022, Apple announced new emergency SOS services for its latest iPhone, enabling users to send emergency SOS alerts outside the reach of cellular networks from remote locations via Globalstar satellites. The service has launched in US and Canada as well as France, Germany, Ireland, and the UK.
At the time of the original announcement, Apple said it would pay for 95 percent of the approved spend for the satellites, with Globalstar raising additional debt capital for the development and launch of new satellites.
Last year Globalstar paid $327 million to Canadian company Macdonald, Dettwiler, and Associates Corporation (MDA) for 17 new 500kg satellites for an ‘unknown potential customer,’ which appears to be Apple. SpaceNews notes the machines are set to launch in 2025 and the deal with MDA includes an option for up to nine additional satellites at $11.4 million each. Apple is set to be allocated up to 85 percent of the new satellites’ capacity, with the rest set to be used for Globalstar’s legacy connectivity services.
As part of the roll-out, some of the $450 million investment from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund will go towards the expansion and enhancement of Globalstar ground stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Nevada, Puerto Rico, and Texas. New antennas designed and manufactured specifically for Apple by Cobham Satcom have been installed at all of Globalstar’s worldwide ground stations, including new sites in Reno, Nevada, and Hawaii.
Launched in 1991 as a joint venture of Loral Corporation and Qualcomm, Globalstar’s first-generation constellation consists of 48 LEO satellites, with an additional four satellites in orbit as spares, while its second-generation comprised 24 machines. The company operates 24 ground stations. Data Center Dynamics