Because he does not have enough going on, Elon Musk-he of Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCity, and the Hyperloop-is launching another project. Musk really wants to create a second Internet in space and something day utilize it for connecting people on Mars to the net.
Musk is tonight hosting a SpaceX event in Seattle, where in fact the company is opening a fresh office. The talk will mostly be about SpaceX’s plans for hiring aerospace and software engineers in the Pacific Northwest to improve the company’s rocket-building efforts. But he’ll also utilize the speak to announce his newest idea, which may launch a massive network of communication satellites to orbit earth. The network would do a couple of things: increase the overall flow of data on the net and deliver high-speed, low-cost Internet services to the three billion-plus individuals who still have poor usage of the net. “Our focus is on developing a global communications system that might be larger than whatever has been discussed up to now,” Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek prior to the announcement.
The Space Internet venture, to which Musk hasn’t yet given a name, will be hugely ambitious. A huge selection of satellites would orbit about 750 miles above earth, much closer than traditional communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit at altitudes as high as 22,000 miles. The low satellites would lead to a speedier Online sites, with less distance for electromagnetic signals to visit. The lag in current satellite systems makes applications such as for example Skype, online gaming, along with other cloud-based services tough to utilize. Musk’s service would, theoretically, rival fiber optic cables on land while also making the web open to remote and poor regions that don’t connect.
“Our focus is on developing a global communications system that might be larger than whatever has been discussed up to now.”
In Musk’s vision, Internet data packets going from, say, LA to Johannesburg would no more have to proceed through a large number of routers and terrestrial networks. Instead, the packets would head to space, bouncing from satellite to satellite until they reach the main one nearest their destination, then go back to an antenna on the planet. “The speed of light is 40 percent faster in the vacuum of space than it really is for fiber,” Musk says. “The long-term potential is usually to be the primary method of long-distance Internet traffic also to serve people in sparsely populated areas.”
This project, he says, depends in the Seattle office. (Musk has yet to look for the located area of the satellite factory.) Any office begins with about 60 people and could grow to at least one 1,000 within 3 to 4 years. The employees may also focus on SpaceX’s Falcon rockets, Dragon capsules, and extra vehicles to transport various supplies (and soon, people) into space. “We wish the very best engineers that either reside in Seattle or that are looking to go to the Seattle area and focus on electronics, software, structures, and power systems,” Musk says. “We wish top engineering talent of most kinds.”
Earlier this week, the entrepreneur Greg Wyler announced an identical effort by way of a startup called OneWeb. Wyler has spent the final 15 years attempting to bring Access to the internet to the so-called “other three billion.” He started a telecommunications company in Rwanda that create Africa’s first 3G cell network. Later, he founded an organization called O3b, which owns a satellite network that delivers fast, cheap Internet to hard-to-reach places across the equator. Through OneWeb, Wyler looks to expand this vision and fill the skies with a huge selection of satellites that may beam their signals right down to low-cost, solar-powered rooftop antennas.
OneWeb has announced that Qualcomm and the Virgin Group will spend money on its effort, that is likely to cost around $ 2 billion. Wyler in addition has already secured the spectrum had a need to deliver this type of service from space and expects to be ready to go by 2018. He’s got a team greater than 30 engineers developing the satellites, antennas, and software for OneWeb.
Musk and Wyler have known one another for a long time. Musk, actually, used to crash at Wyler’s guest house in Atherton, Calif. While you can find major similarities between your two ventures, Musk says he’ll have an advantage through SpaceX’s smarts and manufacturing techniques. “Greg and I’ve a simple disagreement concerning the architecture,” Musk says. “We wish a satellite that’s an order of magnitude more sophisticated than what Greg wants. I believe there must be two competing systems.”
Musk describes his system as “a huge global Online sites provider” for anybody. But he really wants to go a great deal larger than that: He sees it because the basis for something that may stretch completely to Mars, where he plans to create a colony in the coming decades. “It’ll be very important to Mars to possess a global communications network aswell,” he says. “I believe this must be done, and I don’t see other people carrying it out.”
“We view it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX in order to fund a city on Mars.”
The backers of OneWeb, including Virgin chief Richard Branson, contend that Musk does not have the rights to spectrum he’ll have to create this type of network. “I don’t think Elon can perform a competing thing,” Branson says. “Greg gets the rights, and there isn’t space for another network-like there physically isn’t enough room. If Elon really wants to enter this area, the logical thing for him is always to tie up around, and when I were a betting man, I’d say the probability of us working together instead of separately will be higher.”
SpaceX should be careful using its ambitions: Satellite makers have a selection concerning whose rockets carry their machines. In accordance with Musk, SpaceX will concentrate on making satellites for itself for the moment, instead of competing using its customers, although that could change as time passes. “I believe we’d consider building satellites for ourselves and for other folks,” he says. “We’ll begin by building ones that address the precise application that people will work on, and we are more than pleased to sell to other folks.”
Musk said it will require many, a long time to possess his Online sites ready to go. “People shouldn’t expect this to be active earlier than five years,” he said. And it’ll be costly: Around $ 10 billion to create, he says. “But we view it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX in order to fund a city on Mars.”