opinion


Cellphones in spaaaaace…

It’s the week after Barcelona and actual news is thin on the ground, so naturally, the attention of us industry watchers turns to the skies. Which is where most of the action is this week.

First off is a real blue skies concept, with the British National Space Centre (BNSC) and NASA looking at joint plans to trial a cellphone network on the moon. The proposed MoonLITE robotic mission would send a satellite into the Moon’s orbit, which would then release three or four small missile-like vehicles that would embed themselves into the moon’s surface. The satellite orbiter would then act as a telecommunications relay station between the penetrators and Earth during its one year life span.

The set up would be used to test the space-based satellite communications network needed by future robotic and human explorers. But just imagine the roaming charges. And don’t expect to get too much web surfing done – data transfer is likely to be in the 2-3Kbps range on both the uplink and the downlink to start with.

Meanwhile, a bit closer to Earth, literally, a US company called Space Data, which provides specialised communications services to the military and various industrial outfits, has reportedly caught the eye of web giant Google.

Space Data’s business model is to provide low cost platforms for rural and remote data and voice communication applications via its high altitude SkySite network, which basically consists of an array of balloons equipped with a box of transceivers and other gadgets.

The word on the web is that Google, which has taken an interest in wireless services, sees the balloons as a way of expanding coverage out to remote areas. Some believe investment is on the cards, while others say the web giant will outright buy Space Data.


One comment

  1. Tim M 22/02/2008 @ 12:11 pm

    For many years, baloons, aerostats, even high-altitude aeroplanes have all been mooted as platforms to provide mobile coverage to rural – and in some cases not-so-rural areas.

    This sounds like a lot of fun, especially for the development team, but will it ever happen?

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