Before helping humans become a multi-planetary species by stepping foot on Mars, legendary innovator and SpaceX founder Elon Musk is planning to envelop the Earth with internet-beaming satellites.
And as one expects from Musk, he’s not talking about a couple of inter-connected satellites that might accommodate the needs of just the United States. But, according to paperwork filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), SpaceX is planning to deploy a humongous network of 4,425 communication satellites that provide high-speed internet coverage across the globe. Man, that’s a lot of satellites. And they’ll be circling the Earth at all times.
The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, government and professional users worldwide,
says the regulatory filing.
The idea to work on a project to build a robust space-based internet network was initially floated by Musk, some time back in early 2015s. He had then mentioned that the project would require an investment of over $10 billion and a time period of 5 years to successfully deploy and beam uninterrupted high-speed network to 3 billion active internet users. The man behind the idea had suggested building the same in space to cut down on the terrestrial set up and operation costs. But, also because of light, which travels 40 percent faster in a vacuum as compared to optical fibers on land.
These latest regulatory filings finally shed light on the design and technical details of the proposed communication network design but they are missing details of financial requirements for this project. However, we’re aware of the fact that the company would be pouring in its resources combined with the $1 billion investment from Google and Fidelity Investments. Both of these backers had invested in Musk’s dream of colonizing Mars, free internet for all and they might see it come to fruition in the coming months.
While details are still scarce, the proposed project is said to begin with an initial fleet of 800 satellites which will most likely beam internet over Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the States, reports Reuters. While it has not been specified but beaming internet to humans couldn’t be the sole purpose of this extensive and costly project.
This extensive communication network could somehow be related to the ambitious Mars colonization mission which the teams at SpaceX are aggressively working on. They’ve just yesterday tested the monstrous prototype Mars tanks and are now moving on to full testing of the cryogenic helium tanks in the coming weeks. By sending up over 4,000 satellites to space in the next five years, Musk could be setting up a communication link for his Mars mission.
While the company has just unveiled its plans for an internet-based network, it still has a competitor in the form of OneWeb. This space exploration company founded by Musk’s buddy Greg Wyler envision to see the skies dotted with hundreds of satellites, beaming data to receiving antennas. OneWeb has found its investors in Qualcomm, the Virgin Group and plans to setup basic operations by 2018.