SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has confirmed a plan to launch mini satellites to enable internet connectivity in remote areas of the world. Rumors of this plan had been doing the rounds, culminating in an article in the Wall Street Journal.
As he confirmed the development, he said the Journal story was wrong on several counts and he will make a detailed announcement after three months.
Ex- Googler Greg Wyler will partner with Elon to develop these satellites, WSJ had said. Greg has been working with Google’s arm of satellite internet and resigned later believing Google can’t deliver on the grand vision due to lack of manufacturing experience, it added.Elon’s confirmation on Twitter triggered questions on whether this service is going to “unfettered and free.” Musk promised to deliver unrestrained connections, for a price, but at a low cost
The project is estimated to cost at least $1 billion to take off. According to the Journal, these satellites will weigh about 250 pounds and Elon and Greg will send about 700 mini-satellites to beam-down internet signal to earth at a speed of light. Wyler’s company WorldVu Satellites Ltd has a license to a lump of radio spectrum that comes handy to beam satellite connectivity.
The satellite space
This satellite business is a risky business.Companies spend million of dollars to develop satellites which are sent to space and are eventually lost.
Take the case of Iridium Communications Inc, a provider of mobile voice and data communications services via satellite and a prominent player in the space. Iridium has 66 satellites orbiting the earth.
Apparently Iridium has lost two of it’s satellite in the past 3 months alone, (the company has lost, on average, one satellite per year for the past five years.) Now the company is depending on Elon Musk’s SpaceX to keep up with launch.
Iridium’s “remaining launches will be aboard seven Space Exploration Technologies Corp.’s Falcon 9 rockets, each carrying 10 Iridium Next satellites. These launches are scheduled to start in late 2015 and to be completed by mid-2017,” Space News reported earlier this month.
Satellites aside, the concept of delivering internet access to remote areas of the world is fast catching the fancy of Silicon Valley’s giants. Facebook has internt.org and the high-flying drone it acquired, while Google has Project Loon and Titan Aerospace. This is indeed a space that needs to be watched closely.
Have you seen the story: Airtel and facebook have launched OneTouch to bring mobile internet to the masses.