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SpaceX founder files with government to provide Internet service from space


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I've been telling about plans to launch an LEO mini satellite constellation by Musk and his rocket company SpaceX.

 

Excerpt:

 

"Elon Musk’s space company has asked the federal government for permission to begin testing on an ambitious project to beam Internet service from space, a significant step forward for an initiative that could create another major competitor to Comcast, AT&T and other telecom companies.

 

The plan calls for launching a constellation of 4,000 small and cheap satellites that would beam high-speed Internet signals to all parts of the globe, including its most remote regions. Musk has said the effort “would be like rebuilding the Internet in space.”

 

If successful, the attempt could transform SpaceX, based in Hawthorne, Calif., from a pure rocket company into a massive high-speed-Internet provider that would take on major companies in the developed world but also make first-time customers out of the billions of people who are currently not online.

 

The idea of saturating Earth with Internet signals from space has long been the dream of prominent business tycoons, including Bill Gates in the 1990s. But many of these ventures have run into obstacles that Musk is working to avoid. Musk has his own rocket, and he has said his swarm of satellites will be more efficient and inexpensive than relying on a handful of big devices that are difficult to replace.

 

Musk’s FCC filing proposes tests starting next year. If all goes well, the service could be up and running in about five years.

 

Google and Fidelity recently invested $1 billion into SpaceX, in part to support the satellite broadband Internet project."

 

Much more and related links in the article here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/spacex-founder-files-with-government-to-provide-internet-service-from-space/2015/06/09/db8d8d02-0eb7-11e5-a0dc-2b6f404ff5cf_story.html?wpisrc=nl_tech&wpmm=1

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A few years back Motorola tried a Low-Earth-Orbit Satellite phone system. It was a flop. But just before they turned off the service, their biggest customer arrive and asked how big the check had to be. That be the CIA.

 

Musk is really going to have to lower the launch costs of the LEOS because their usage duration is significantly lower than the geosynchronous satellites.

 

And while Low-Earth-Orbit has a shorter ground to satellite time than geosynchronous satellites, the time may be eaten up by the apprent mesh network Musk intends to use.

 

Not going replace DSL and Fiber but it can bring Internet to remote places.

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Not going replace DSL and Fiber but it can bring Internet to remote places.

Like RV Parks and the RVs parked wherever? I hope they can use just rubber ducky type of antenna instead of a dish.

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In mid-1970s, SBS was started by IBM, Aetna and Comsat to do exactly this... for private/businesses. Since the connectivity technology of the day was too slow to make it work as LEOs, the first phase was to initially setup a geosynchronous platform at much higher altitudes to act as high speed switching central offices with a much larger horizon vision.

 

Eventually, as the tech developed and the launch costs dropped (presumably due to the shuttle), the LEOs would become the active net and provide the direct sat -to sat linkage necessary for hand-offs.

 

The last working SBS sat was SBS 6 and was decommissioned in 2007 after changing hands a few times after SBS ownership.

 

The unexpected voracious growth of the internet, broadband and cellular technologies was much faster than the anticipated lowering of LEO costs and businesses were more than happy to lose the lag and selectivity of the WATS networks.

 

The viability of LEO networks was technically proven back in the '70s but the price point never caught up to expectations. Thanks largely to the LEO threat, the terran based connectivity of AT*T and MCI (they bought SBS from the IBM coalition, BTW) exploded. Bell was not going to let anyone else get a hand up on their telecommunications mountain (but MCI, did).

 

Back in 1975, the personal consumer was not even a profit consideration. Apple and Intel were not given more than hobbiest interest by the private consumer. IBM's first PC was not present in the market at the time and by IBM's own admission, the IBM PC was not considered a future company profit center when it became a reality.

 

A brief overview of the SBS effort: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_Business_Systems#Technology

 

At the time ( late 1976, I tried my best to transfer into the SBS division of IBM because I saw the exciting future potential, did interviews and had a title but local management decided it was not to be for me at that time. Guess they knew best, afterall.

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I was rooting back at the turn of the century for Bill Gates and his LEO Teledesic company. I think the biggest problem is that no one with the money was also a rocket engineer with his own space vehicles until Musk.

 

The thing about Musk that folks who refuse to believe what they see, then try to nitpick it, as if that makes anything change, is that when he announces something, it's a done deal. He's already done the conceptual reality checks. Has the resources lined up, and the team leaders selected for each aspect. This continues to confuse the status quo management by committee types. They don't like it at all because they can't do it. I believe if they spent the same amount of creative thinking and energy on doing rather than talking, they'd make it.

 

I was unaware of how the fancy word processors that they replaced my beloved IBM Selectric typewriters with would change my world. I wasn't working in IT then. The AF had no IT until a couple of years after they gave us those Zenith Z100 all in one computers. We ho had computer at home were it!

 

Amazing times.

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I applaud any effort to compete with the big providers. Hope it works. My first thought was 4000 small satellites is a heck of an increase to the current population. Having said that, I have absolutely no expertise in that arena. I do wonder if the gov will approve such a dramatic increase. But, can the gov't actually prevent them? US says "no", Russia or someone else say "Heck Ye$!"

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