Elon Musk and Richard Branson announced this week that they planned and started large investments in small satellites. This could one day prove to be an Internet service offered at a global scale and with low-cost prices.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors and the rocket company Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) opened a new office in Seattle on Friday. In the office engineers will work to develop satellites of smaller size. He explained in a previous Twitter post that SpaceX was in the first stages of designing “advanced micro-satellites.” Those micro-satellites would orbit our Earth in large, massive clusters.
On Wednesday, Richard Branson, the British founder of Virgin Galactic, said that he started to invest in a venture. The venture is called OneWeb Ltd. and plans to provide Internet service worldwide. The service will be powered by a network of 648 small satellites.
Several analysts launched a hypothesis according to which Musk could even be connected to the OneWeb venture. No information on that possibility was disclosed by its executives. SpaceX didn’t comment on that possibility either.
The International Telecommunications Union, an agency of the United Nations declared that Internet access is not available for more than half of the planet’s population. A possible success of a satellite venture that can provide Internet access at smaller prices would have major implications. This will be an advantage particularly for people that have a poor financial state and who live in remote locations. Similar attempts have been recorded in the past, but the cost was too high.
A satellite industry consultant in Palos Verde, Roger Rusch said that a successful business has a small chance of success.
In spite of other pessimistic views, SpaceX, which has its headquarters in Hawthorne, has already showed on the commercial market that a space business can be run on profit, decreasing the cost for a rocket launch.
Musk says he plans to shake the satellite market too. Some analysts express the opinion that this is something that could be achieved.
A telecommunications analyst at Jefferies, Giles Thorne, reported this week that the plan of OneWeb to launch a constellation of tiny satellites on Earth’s orbit was “a compelling combination.”
Elon Musk claimed this week that the new offices in the region of Seattle are going to hire 60 engineers. In two to three years, the office’s staff could rise to a thousand people.
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