What's Going On In Space Today

Here’s an interesting quote about space based Internet activity from The Spectrum Monitor January 2016 Edition Page 8:

Internet Space Race Fizzle
Last year, as reported in the July issue of this column,
there was a great deal of buzz generated by billionaire entrepreneurs
announcing grandiose schemes to launch Low-
Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations designed to bring
inexpensive Internet service to the vast regions of the world
that lack the necessary ground-based infrastructure to support
Internet connectivity.

Richard Branson’s OneWeb claimed it would launch
900 satellites with Airbus getting the construction contracts.
The deal, announced last June, would build the first 10 satellites
in France and the remaining 890 satellites at an undisclosed
facility in the US with service to begin in 2019. Mark
Zuckerberg, of Facebook fame, had announced an ambitious
project in March of last year to “build drones, satellites and
lasers to deliver the Internet to everyone.”

Never to be outdone by your average billionaire,
Space-X and Tesla Motors wunderkind, Elon Musk, announced
his scheme to launch no fewer than 4,000 LEO satellites
in his bid to help the world’s Internet-deprived (for a
small fee, of course). And, global domination leader, Google,
continues to experiment with its high-altitude balloon-based
Internet service delivery system.

First to back out was Zuckerberg, in June 2015, noting
that the price for developing such a project (estimated
at $500 million to $1 billion) was too much. By early July
2015, Musk was interjecting a rarely heard note of caution,
telling Motherboard.com, “We want to be really careful
about how we make this thing work, and not over-extend
ourselves.” By late October 2015 Space-X President and
COO, Gwynee Shotwell, told the same Web site that there
was “not a lot of effort going into [the project].”

And, finally, OneWeb has run into regulatory problems,
as geostationary satellite operators are concerned that One-
Web’s 900 satellites, operating in the Ku-band, could interfere
with established geostationary satellites using the same
frequencies. Latest word is that Google continues its high-altitude
balloon experiments over New Zealand.

Meanwhile, off-the-shelf Internet information provider,
Outernet, continues its low-budget, low-volume, one-way
Internet service via Ku-band on G19, among others of the
world’s geostationary satellites, providing what it calls “a
collection of essential offline learning material and Kahn
Academy prepared for offline use.” Its daily download of
digital data is actually happening and it’s free. Details about
Outernet may be found here: http://outernet.org.

I thought you’d all be interested in these twists of fate, and might want to research details for yourselves. Ken