Iridium Communications Inc. (formerly Iridium Satellite LLC) is a publicly traded American company headquartered in McLean, Virginia. Iridium operates the Iridium satellite constellation, a system of 66 active satellites used for worldwide voice and data communication from hand-held satellite phones and other transceiver units. The Iridium network is unique in that it covers the whole Earth, including poles, oceans and airways, with 95 satellites launched so far. The satellites are frequently visible in the night sky as satellite flares, a phenomenon typically observed as short-lived bright flashes of light.
Iridium manages several operations centers, including Tempe, Arizona and Leesburg, Virginia, United States. The U.S. Department of Defense, through its own dedicated gateway, relies on Iridium for global communications capabilities. The company derives its name from the chemical element iridium which has an atomic number of 77, equalling the initial number of satellites which were planned to be deployed.