The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is planning to spend more than $1 billion on satellites that will offer internet access worldwide from space. The publication’s sources say that Google will begin with 180 small satellites that will orbit the Earth at a lower altitude than most other craft, before possibly expanding the fleet in the future.
They are expected to launch starting in 2019.
Google has been hiring new staff from satellite companies in an effort to get its space internet scheme off the ground. The project is reportedly being run by Greg Wyler, who founded satellite startup O3b Networks. O3b, in whom Google has invested, has been experimenting with 1,500-pound satellites, but people familiar with the project say the devices Google intends to use will weigh less than 250 pounds. The WSJ’s sources say the costs for the venture could top $3 billion as Google makes tweaks to the network and revises the number of satellites it needs to offer internet in unconnected parts of the world.
Google’s Project Loon uses balloons to act as high-altitude ISPs, and in April, it acquired Titan Aerospace, a company building solar-powered drones that can beam internet signals from the sky. Facebook said it was experimenting with a similar method in March, confirming that it was building a squadron of drones that could fly autonomously at 65,000 feet for months at a time using solar cells.
Google’s reported plans to roll out a fleet of satellites likely won’t make its efforts with drones or balloons obsolete.
The technologies complemented each other, and that drones and satellites could combine to achieve Google’s aim of offering signal in all corners of the world.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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