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Setback at TRW

September 11, 1997|KAREN KAPLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER; Karen Kaplan covers aerospace, technology and telecommunications. She can be reached via e-mail at karen.kaplan@latimes.com

TRW has lost a major investor in its $3.2-billion Odyssey venture, which aims to provide telecommunications services via a network of 12 satellites in medium Earth orbit, about 6,000 miles above sea level.

TRW's space and defense group in Redondo Beach and its partner Teleglobe of Montreal had been trying since 1995 to raise $800 million from private investors by early this year. The Cleveland-based automotive equipment maker no longer has a target date to complete the first round of Odyssey financing, TRW spokesman Jack Prichett said.

When the Odyssey service is turned on early next century, it will compete with much larger satellite networks in low Earth orbit, such as Iridium, launched by Motorola, and Teledesic, backed by Craig McCaw and Bill Gates. Prichett says that with fewer satellites, Odyssey can relay telephone calls and digital data at a much lower cost. But there are hurdles ahead: After this round of financing ends, Odyssey plans to seek an additional $800 million from another group of investors.

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