Billionaire PayPal-founder and future-tech pin-up Elon Musk has confirmed that his private aerospace company SpaceX is currently developing “advanced micro-satellites” capable of operating in “large formations”.
Musk tweeted that the technology was going to be officially unveiled in two to three months’ time following a report in the Wall Street Journal on Musk’s work with industry veteran Greg Wyler.
Wyler, a former Google executive and founder of WorldVu Satellites, has previously planned to launch a constellation of 360 110kg satellites by 2020 to offer broadband internet access to “hundreds of millions of potential users”.
SpaceX is still in the early stages of developing advanced micro-satellites operating in large formations. Announcement in 2 to 3 months.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 11, 2014
The WSJ reported that he is currently in talks with Musk to create a much larger constellation, ten times the size of the current largest fleet with some 700 individual satellites.
However, the pair is likely to be hamstrung by a number of problems both technical and legislative, and the WSJ points out that one indication of the size of the challenge is that Wyler had previously tried to work with Google on a similar plan before apparently giving up and leaving the company.
The interest in satellite constellations in recent years has been fuelled by falling costs for both launching and building the satellites, and it’s not just broadband that these fleets are supplying: Californian startup Skybox Imaging has been successfully beaming back real-time video from its satellites since 2013, and was purchased by Google in June this year.Reuse content