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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Over 65% of the Earths population still don’t have internet, Musks ambitious project will bring them the same internet benefits that the rest of the world have… and fund his city on Mars.

 

SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk, is planning to put more than 4,000 satellites in orbit in order to blanket the Earth with internet access and he plans on using the profits from the project to fund his ambitions to build a city on Mars.

SpaceX, the privateer space company led by Musk, who in 2026 plan on taking men and women to Mars, has requested permission from the US government to operate a massive network of 4,425 satellites – plus “in-orbit spares” – to provide high-speed internet coverage to every point on Earth. In a document entitled simply as”Fixed Satellite Service” filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday SpaceX propose an initial launch of 800 satellites, beginning in 2017, to create an orbiting digital communications array that will initially blanket the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with high speed, space based internet access.

 

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In the filing, SpaceX said: “The system is designed to provide a wide range of broadband and communications services for residential, commercial, institutional, government and professional users worldwide.”

While it’s been on the cards for two or more years the system would be one of the first  space based alternatives to go live and could potentially be a real challenger to the traditional internet access providers who all too often spend billions burying cables and fibre in the ground that despite being apparently ubiquitous all too often start and end in the cities, leaving rural communities to fend for themselves. After all – if you live in a small village in the Rockies, for example, it’s highly unlikely that any of the cable operators are going to be champing at the bit to spend millions or tens of millions of dollars laying superfast broadband cables to reach you – the economics and return on investment simply don’t stack up. But Musks system, and others like it will change all that.

SpaceX is not the first to propose such a system. As I recently reported similar satellite or high altitude internet networks are under development by Facebook, Google and OneWeb – a consortium backed by Airbus, Coca-Cola, Intelsat, Hughes Network Systems Qualcomm, although Facebook’s initiative recently suffered a set back when a SpaceX rocket carrying their latest satellite blew up on the launch pad.

 

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Each satellite SpaceX proposes to put into orbit, without its solar panels extended, is the size of an average car, measuring 4m by 1.8 by 1.2m and weighing 386kg and they’ll be orbiting between 714 miles and 823 miles above the Earth and the plan is expected to cost at least $10 Billion with Google – despite having it’s own program called “project Loon,” already stumping up $1 billion in support.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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