SpaceX and Tesla Founder Elon Musk revolutionized the automotive and aerospace industries with electric cars and cheap rockets. Now, he is focusing on making small, economical satellites that can provide cheap internet access to the world.
Musk is working with former Google Inc executive and founder of WorldVu Satellites Ltd, Greg Wyler, on a $1 billion project to deploy around 700 satellites into a fairly low-altitude orbit of 500-600 miles. Each satellite will weigh less than 250 pounds, about half the size of the smallest communications satellites in commercial use at present.
Google and Facebook have also been working to expand Internet access across the world through satellites, balloons and even drone fleets. Google has already raced ahead with its Project Loon, a ring of solar-powered balloons set to deliver internet service to mobile phone users in the Southern Hemisphere by 2015. Facebook is also catching up as the company has elaborate plans to use drones as satellites to spread internet access.
Both Musk and Wyler share a common interest in providing cheap and reliable internet access to the entire world but their project might face challenges; SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corp) may not have the capacity for the satellite swarm launches until 2020. The company already has its hands full with its current launch responsibilities after it won a $2.6 billion NASA contract to develop and fly space taxis to carry U.S. astronauts into orbit.