Elon Musk wants to build an internet for people on Mars. It will be part of a second internet in space, using satellites to connect Mars to Earth ahead of manned missions to the planet, the Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO said.
The new plan will also help speed up the internet on Earth, and allow the more than three billion people who have little or no access to the web to get online.
The plan will see hundreds of satellites orbiting about 750 miles above Earth, Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek. Some will hover lower and help with the improvement of internet speed and access on Earth.
Because light travels much faster in the vacuum of space, internet connections will be improved over existing fibre optic cables.
But the plan will also allow for internet connections on Mars, where Elon Musk says he plans to put people in just 10 to 12 years.
“It will be important for Mars to have a global communications network as well,” he told Businessweek. “I think this needs to be done, and I don’t see anyone else doing it.”
Revenues from the Earth internet will help pay for the $10 billion investment in the colony and internet on Mars, he said.
“People should not expect this to be active sooner than five years,” he said. “But we see it as a long-term revenue source for SpaceX to be able to fund a city on Mars.”
Musk announced the plans as part of a talk at SpaceX’s new Seattle factory, which will look after the internet plans as well as helping build SpaceX’s rockets and capsules.