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back to article I tried to buy a satellite and all I got was this lousy $67,000

Back in 2010 a hugely optimistic plan to buy a satellite raised $67,000 in donations, way short of the needed $1.3bn, but as media interest faded the founder has kept himself busy spending the cash. The plan was to buy US comms satellite TerraStar-1, which bankrupted its owner TerreStar Corp after it tried to offer satellite …

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Happy

I know one he can buy

North Korea just sent a washing machine sized sat into space or maybe it was a washing machine. He could start the first "astromat" with the logo "cleanliness that is out of this world".

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Silver badge

I think the final sentence summed it up perfectly. I doubt people contributed money in such as manner as to leave their kids starving, it was a long shot at a great objective (not unlike the a lottery, a small outlay for a small chance of a big win). Given the timeframe he spent it over he doesn't seem to have pissed it up the wall on hookers and coke. Good for him, the world needs people to try and make an impact, even if they fail.

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Anonymous Coward

"he doesn't seem to have pissed it up the wall on hookers and coke. Good for him"

Yah boo! I say bad for him, because it's a much better story when a rogue does mis-spend the money. Admittedly $67k doesn't buy much of anything these days, but that's not the point - he could have tried, rather than exhibited such a principled lack of ambition.

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Terminator

we'll have our own satellite

with hookers and blackjack

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Coat

I can do you a very good price...

... on a second hand space shuttle, only one owner...

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Joke

Re: I can do you a very good price...

"

I can do you a very good price...

... on a second hand space shuttle, only one owner..."

You do know there's no such thing as a free launch !

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Meh

It took 2 years and £67.000????

'a campaign that has seen him talking to business leaders around the globe and reaching the conclusion that big business really isn't interested in little people.'

Could have told him that for free!

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Re: It took 2 years and £67.000????

Damn, beaten to it.

+1

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Silver badge

Wrong approach?

"An honest gentleman had offered us capacity on two of his FM satellites, it's not internet access but it's something."

I can't help wonder why they didn't start here. Everyone could have told them that trying to purchase a satellite was going to be near impossible. Considering that people in South Africa do have access to satellites and such, why not start there?

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Anonymous Coward

All investments are made at risk

No sane person investing in an adventure like this should expect money back in the event of failure. Even with more traditional company start ups the ideas fail or market conditions change.

As the money was at least spent on the cause I believe ethics have been maintained.

Maybe keeping investments in escrow until they reach target would be an idea, but then you add the additional risk and costs of an escrow company and their own potential to fail or misbehave.

There is no such thing as a risk free investment…

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Boffin

Much of the 'idle' capacity of satellites is allocated on what is called a "pre-emptive basis", satellites are known to fail, rarely but it does happen. So most satellite companies keep a little capacity in reserve so that when one does fail others can pick up the slack. Most of this "spare" capacity isn't idle all of the time, in fact the TV industry uses it extensively for news gathering, relaying sports events, big corporates use them for product launches and internal communication, there are many "occasional use" business cases.

It might be possible to rent this idle capacity on a parasitic basis, you could keep the transponders lit when they are idle and taken them down before they are needed. But your receivers would have to work on the basis that they expected the connection to fail and sometimes be totally unavailable. Plus I would be nervous about allowing these terminals to transmit back because although they should only transmit when the spectrum is available they could possibly contribute to unintentional jamming of commercial traffic. So it would be easy to deliver high bandwidth data on a unidirectional basis using just spare hardware and spare capacity, getting bi-directional access is way more challenging and would require significant investment.

(Bio: I spent enough years doing satellite comms into weird and wonderful parts of the world for a two large organisations).

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Silver badge

Actually you can sometimes have transponders for (nearly) free

DrDish TV an (unlicensed) German Satellite enthusiasts channel used to broadcast from a boardroom in an uplink facility. I doubt they paid much for that. Also many broadcasters are unable to completely fill their transponders. Despite of cooperative video encoders, there still is often quite a bit of padding left on the transponder.

Obviously you could collect those bits of bandwidth and get semi-decent bandwidths.

However the main problem here is that it is fairly labor and equipment intensive. You would need to build additional uplink-stations and man those. You would also need to receive from many sources, so you need many dishes and lots of equipment.

While it may be feasible for a larger town or city, it isn't for individuals. And if you have a larger town or city, you can just get fibre for about the same efford but with _much_ higher bandwidths.

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K
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Joke

Has been spent trying to get a fibre-optic cable moved..

From his 1 bedroom apartment, to his new 3 bedroom pent house!

Chief Optimist.. I would be too.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has been spent trying to get a fibre-optic cable moved..

Whether he was telling the truth to the reporter or not, £67,000 wouldn't get you a 3-bed penthouse. Or, come to think of it, anything anywhere near where I live that doesn't need extensive renovation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Has been spent trying to get a fibre-optic cable moved..

Actually it is a transatlantic fibre optic cable whose route is about to be moved to the British overseas territory of St Helena: http://www.movethiscable.org - according to the website at least that idea seems to be working out.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Has been spent trying to get a fibre-optic cable moved..

From his one bedroom shared BASEMENT apartment to his new 3 bedroom penthouse overlooking the houses of Parliment.

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Go

You can lose a satellite for millions

I chucked them a tenner because it was such a beautiful idea, even if it had only a slim chance of success.

It's not just the price of satellites, even redundant ones: most satellite launches carry huge insurance, so satellite operators have been known to let satellites launched into the wrong orbit come back down to Earth, even if a rescue plan was possible. The insurance payout makes it easier to wait two years and launch a replacement.

He shouldn't write off crowd-funding another venture, though. After all, Ouya has raised millions for nothing more than an Android games console, and satellite launch costs could drop heavily in the second half of this decade.

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Meh

Re: You can lose a satellite for millions

I'm not sure that Ouya's odds are much better than this guy's were, but then, I'm not the Optimist in Chief...

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Thumb Down

Bit harsh

shifted around the world by well-meaning nerds

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Silver badge

Re: Bit harsh

I don't think it was that harsh, He is well meaning, but living up to the title of "Chief Optimist" to the point of being unrealistic.

On a more realistic note, could a constellation of sub-micro satellites be able to do this in a more cost-effective method then his original (unrealistic) approach of buying (and moving) a full-sized satellite?

Pico-satellites are being launched for sub-20KUSD.

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Devil

he had my bullshit alarms going off...

...when he identified himself as "Chief Optimist". Pure dot-bomb bullshit.

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Re: he had my bullshit alarms going off...

There's lots of worse things in the world than labeling yourself "Chief Optimist".

Plus, nobody ever asked for their donation back. Can't exactly call it fraud, can you?

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Bronze badge

Re: he had my bullshit alarms going off...

...Plus, nobody ever asked for their donation back. Can't exactly call it fraud, can you?

Well-llll... perhaps not in the sense that nobody explicitly asked for their donations back, but, still... the guy raised a buttload of cash with the stated aim of buying a satellite -- a rather ill thought-out scheme when you think about it -- and then, upon realizing he couldn't possibly pull it off, kept the cash and used it for something else entirely non-satellite-related.

So, in a strictly legalistic sense, yeah, it's totally fraud.

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Scam

Just because a con man claims to have noble goals as he spends donations on international travel doesn't make it either plausible, or any less a criminal act of fraud. This clown belongs in prison, not plotting his next fleecing of the gullible. More than a few of whom seem to be lurking around here. If something seems to good to be true, that's because it is folks.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Scam

"If something seems to good to be true, that's because it is folks."

He didn't offer anything to those who donated, or guarantee them big (or any) returns. He said he wanted to give poor people internet access.

If you're going to engage in a dastardly, evil scheme to take peoples' money, you'd have to be nuts to do it by asking for donations to buy and re-purpose a satellite! Just the nature of the request severely limits potential donators - only people who are interested in getting network to poor areas, who know why it might be useful, who are aware of satellite technology but also unaware that it's an absurd idea to start with...

It's like trying to sweet-talk a stranger for gas money not by saying that your wallet got stolen, but by claiming that a freak solar flare immobilized your vehicle, forcing you to seek aid from a corrupt Tibetan lama who siphoned your gas in exchange for performing an ancient EM-pulse-mitigation ceremony. You could, but why?

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FAIL

FSA

Another case of the Free Shite Army trying to mobilize for even more FS.

Maybe if it's not "Free" someone might just un-ass themselves to provide the service. If no one is willing to pay, then maybe the demand wasn't there or it wasn't worth the expenditure?

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