Comms in Space! Musk Plans Micro-Satellites, Google Leases NASA's Moffett Field

SpaceX's Elon Musk is the latest to join in the attempts to deliver Internet connectivity from space, as Google plans to pump millions into a California airfield to help advance its own high-altitude plans.

Musk revealed on Twitter that his company, which designs commercial space vehicles, is working on something new, tweeting: "SpaceX is still in the early stages of developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations." The full announcement will be coming in a few months.

The micro-satellites are intended as a way to provide "unfettered" and "very low cost" access to the Internet, Musk further tweeted. SpaceX is the latest high-tech company to attempt to take on this challenge. (See Forget the Internet, Brace for Skynet.)

Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), meanwhile, is pursuing similar aims with its "Project Loon" Internet-via-balloons effort. The search giant is also said to have examined the satellite option. (See Broadband: It's All Hot Air for Google and Google Plans Web of Satellites – Report.)

Both Google and Facebook are working on high-altitude solar drones to provide Internet from the stratosphere. If successfully developed, these drones would fly at 65,000 feet and stay aloft for years. (See Facebook, Google in New Drone Race.)

Check out all our drone coverage on Light Reading's drones channel.

To this end, Google subsidiary Planetary Ventures LLC has signed a 60-year lease with NASA to take over Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, Calif. It will spend $200 million to rehabilitate the massive Hangar One, which used to house Navy airships, and two other hangars.

NASA says that, once the restorations are complete, the Google unit will use the facilities for "research, development, assembly and testing in the areas of space exploration, aviation, rover/robotics and other emerging technologies."

Regular readers will recall that Google is working with the Federal Aviation Authority to get a license for flight-testing its drones in US airspace. (See Google Working With FAA on US Drone License.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

DanJones 11/12/2014 | 2:03:15 PM
Re: Maybe Yeah, I'm thinking they would have to launch them all together somehow.
brooks7 11/12/2014 | 12:49:12 PM
Re: Maybe Dan,

I think you will find that launch cost is huge for satellites....so check into how light they will be and how long they will last.


Ariella 11/12/2014 | 12:34:49 PM
Re: Maybe @DanJones I also wonder if they have a shorter lifespan, if less costly also means less durable. 
DanJones 11/12/2014 | 12:30:25 PM
Re: Maybe Dunno yet, hoping to find out. One would think they'd need to be much less costly to work.
Ariella 11/12/2014 | 10:48:26 AM
Re: Maybe How much smaller and less costly are the micro versions than the standard satellites?
brooks7 11/11/2014 | 5:44:48 PM
Maybe We can take Drones and backhaul them to balloons that connect to micro-satellites.


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