Elon Musk plans to launch a network of hundreds of communication satellites to orbit earth. The network would do two things: speed up the general flow of data on the Internet and deliver high-speed, low-cost Internet services to the three billion-plus people who still have poor access to the Web. “Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek ahead of the announcement.
Hundreds of satellites would orbit about 750 miles above earth, much closer than traditional communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit at altitudes of up to 22,000 miles. The lower satellites would make for a speedier Internet service, with less distance for electromagnetic signals to travel. The lag in current satellite systems makes applications such as Skype, online gaming, and other cloud-based services tough to use. Musk’s service would, in theory, rival fiber optic cables on land while also making the Internet available to remote and poor regions that don’t have access.
According to Musk, SpaceX will focus on making satellites for itself for the time being, rather than competing with its customers, although that may change over time. “I think we would consider building satellites for ourselves and for other people,” he says. “We’ll start by building ones that address the specific application that we are working on, and then we will be more than happy to sell to other people.”
Musk said it will take many, many years to have his Internet service up and running. “People should not expect this to be active sooner than five years,” he said. And it’ll be expensive: Around $10 billion to build, he says. “But we see it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX to be able to fund a city on Mars.”
SOURCES – Bloomberg business week, youtube, the verge
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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