Science Sunday: Space Internet

Rocket Science Scale: 5

Let’s Set the Mood:

This article isn’t about the impending doom of how we are going to destroy the earth. It is about space satellites and how we plan on putting thousands upon thousands more up there.

We might be heading towards this. But it might be an okay thing depending on how we handle it.

We might be heading towards this. But it might be an okay thing depending on how we handle it.

This article was thought of after hearing that Elon Musk wanting to make a “Space Internet”. He’s opening up a Seattle branch of SpaceX to continue work on the the SpaceX rockets and possibly start a Space Internet.

It is an interesting concept. The plan is to launch a hundreds (the number changes depending on the source). It should allow faster internet speeds to everyone in the world including third world countries. The plan to allow those speeds is to launch the hundreds of satellites into very low earth orbit (about 750 miles above Earth) so they can communicate to each other faster. Or at least that’s Elon Musk’s plan.

To him the satellites would be the base for future communications to a Mar’s colony. Keep your eyes on the prize Elon.

mars

What was interesting to me is the recent attention on a Space Internet was because Musk announced it as his new pet project. But the Space Internet seems to actually be the idea of Greg Wyler.

BN-GL347_GOOGWY_J_20150114182002

Wyler has created three total startups that have to do with setting communication networks. The first was Terracom, which was a successfully 3G network in Rwanda to set up cell and internet service (with the use of a fiber optic cable). This increased communication within Rwanda but was slow for international communications. Next he set up a company called O3b which has 12 satellites around 5000 miles from Earth which provides internet in the Pacific.

And now he has moved on to OneWeb. It is supposedly cheaper than Elon Musk’s plan (2 billion to 10), and would feature satellites about 750 miles away from the Earth’s surface (sound familiar). OneWeb has also secured funding from large investors like Virgin Group and Qualcomm.

Apparently Wyler and Musk are friends. The key thing from both their plans is it would provide a cheap internet to everyone in the world. Cool concept right? I think Wyler has a better start since he has already set up a satellite network and experience does help when finding investors. I’m pretty sure Musk’s plan is funded internally.

My only concern with both plans is maintenance of the satellites. If they die after three – five years , both companies should have a plan to remove them from space and replace them with a new one. Otherwise, the Earth will be covered with space junk.

Walleorbit

So my opinion: Yay Space Internet but boo space junk. It’ll be interesting to see what happens!

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