Reg comments54

Elon Musk wants to launch 4,000 satellites and smother globe with net connectivity

$10bn scheme not at all unrealistic *cough* Hyperloop *cough*

Elon Musk. Picture by Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media, licensed under CC 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla. Pic: Dan Taylor / Heisenberg Media, CC 2.0

Opinion Money-burning madtech mogul Elon Musk has asked US regulators for permission to launch more than 4,000 satellites in a $10bn project to create a global satellite internet network.

The scheme was spotted by Reuters, which reported that a filing with the Federal Communications Commission showed that Musk wants to create an array of 4,425 satellites.

“The latest documents, which include technical details of the proposed network, did not mention cost estimates or financing plans,” the straight-faced newswire said.

It seems that Musk initially plans to launch 800 satellites to cover the US, including Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and hopes the network will compete with established cabled broadband networks.

This is a modest increase of 100 over figures flung around by the space-mad businessman in 2014, when Musk teased the idea of 700 SpaceX internet satellites. It also represents a doubling of last year’s estimate that just 2,000 satellites would be needed to cover the entire Earth in Musk-branded interweb connectivity. Back then he reckoned it would take five years to get the system off the ground.

This latest satellite project is an example of a master showman grabbing the headlines with more style than substance. Tesla, his electric car business, made a $4,000 loss on each car it sold back in 2015 and in its most recent quarterly financial results posted a loss of $293m. (PDF) The ridiculous hyperloop high speed train he keeps plugging is so far advanced that a group of students has only just managed to demonstrate a proof-of-concept maglev – well-proven tech already in regular use in Japan and China.

As long as Musk continues to spout hyperbole, though, he’ll continue getting the coverage he needs to keep the show on the road. ®

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