back to article Beat this, cloud giants! Musk rocket flings 1TB hard drive into SPAAACE

A Canadian company has strapped a terabyte-storage box to a satellite to prove it can shift large amounts of information around the world in less than an hour. The store-and-forward gadget is attached to Canada's CASSIOPE weather-watching bird, which was launched into space by one of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets over the …

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IP over pigeon, or a station wagon full of tapes

Yes! There's a lot of data out there that just doesn't care about latency. Now, if a company is too poor to afford the satellite delivery, just tag a migrating flock! (Data direction constrained by migration patterns.)

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Re: IP over pigeon, or a station wagon full of tapes

Don't jest - plenty of stories where the pigeons win...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-11325787

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Paris Hilton

By 'fling', I thought you meant...

...actually launching and landing a 1TB HDD. "There's no way that can be cost-effective" I thought...

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Pirate

I wonder..

With folk able to move files about and control the system from anywhere on the planet.

I wonder how the cops would sieze an orbiting data centre if they suspected piracy ?

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Coat

Re: I wonder..

I wonder how the cops would sieze an orbiting data centre"

For that matter, who has jurisdiction in space?

Star cops? Piiiigs in SPAAAAACE!?

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Target market.

So, users must have:

1. Lots of data to move.

2. Not care about it being real-time.

3. Either be in the middle of nowhere away from connectivity, or semi-mobile.

I see a few potentials:

- Surveying operations. Hunting for resources, mostly oil. Take the seismo data, and have it back at HQ within the hour so they can run the numbers and say where to go next.

- High-altitude telescopes.

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Re: Target market.

if you only see a few potentials, you are not trying hard enough...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Target market.

You don't need to be "away from connectivity" for this to be worthwhile.

We have a customer at work who ship crates full of hard disks across the Atlantic by carrier as it's the only cost effective way of getting the bandwidth. The latency sucks - but buying a pipe that will let you shift terrabytes of data quickly is not cheap, even in "civilised" areas with good connectivity.

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Re: Target market.

> We have a customer at work who ship crates full of hard disks across the Atlantic by carrier as it's the only cost effective way of getting the bandwidth

Sure. But this won't provide it.

"the final fleet should be able to manage 1Gb/sec". So let's say they upgrade it to that speed. Say the satellite is above you for 5 minutes. You get to upload a whole 37.5GB of data; and that's assuming nobody else is uploading to it at the same time.

A gigabit of Internet transit bought in London costs less than £2,000 per month; you can use it 24x7 to any destination in the world. Obviously you need a fat enough connection at the other end too.

So where the satellite might help is:

(a) downlinking to places without decent Internet connectivity

(b) downlinking the same data to multiple places concurrently (say, all your stores in one country). But of course, if any of them fails to receive the data correctly, you have to send it out again on the next pass.

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Re: Target market.

We have a customer at work who ship crates full of hard disks across the Atlantic by carrier as it's the only cost effective way of getting the bandwidth.

Years ago before the days of internet connections as standard there was a big project being setup where I worked that was going to be split between design centres in the UK and France. The people managing the project decided that it was essential that all the design data was mirrored between the sites so everyone could see everything - though there would be some latency in the syncing which would be overnight etc. So they spec-ed up the amount of data they thought would be needed to be transmitted overnight and got a quote for installing a network connection to handle this .... there idea's were somewhat undermined when someone in finance pointed out that it would be cheaper the employ someone to fly to France and back every day with a case full of mag tapes than the "solution" they were suggesting!

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Re: Target market.

@AC 09:26 - Although I like the story, please learn the difference between there/their/they're and when to use apostrophes. Instead of "there idea's", you should be using "their ideas".

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Re: Target market.

Glasgow hospitals?

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If they could be networked

They could potentially stream packets from one to the other then to destination in a respectfully faster period.

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Re: If they could be networked

I thought one of the bankrupted orbiting network groups of the turn of millenium did that ? Part of Iridium now ITIRC. As sat to sat comms has been demonstrated using lasers, Gen 2 of these things might be able to do two levels of service; short delay and near immediate for a higher fee. Interesting concepts to which I think the biggest threat is reliability. How much junk is there in LEO now ?

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Disks in spaaace!

There's a degree of genius to this; I hope people find it useful.

It would have been a great story for April 1st - I reckon a lot of people would be fooled into thinking it was a fool.

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Mushroom

Oh goody.

MORE crap floating around in space...just what we need...NOT!

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Re: Oh goody.

"MORE crap floating around in space...just what we need...NOT!"

In the story they state that "the gadget is attached to Canada's CASSIOPE weather-watching bird". If they keep up the habit of piggy packing their equipment with other satellites, there will no no additional garbage in space. But even if not, satellites nowadays are not just abandoned after use any more. They are disposed off by either dropping them in the atmosphere or by parking them in a special orbit that is reserved for space junk.

Given that these kind of satellites are flying in a rather low orbit, they will probably be dumped in the atmosphere at the end of their useful life.

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Complication...

"...sub-one-metre dish needed to pick up the Cascade (Ka band) signal..."

That'll need aiming. At a fast moving (LEO) target. Annoying.

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Is that a "bird" in the sky?

I feel that RFC 1149 might just turn out to be useful after all!

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Go

cables and..

it would be an interesting back of the envelope calculation to see economically this stacks up with laying a 1Gb cable between 2 places and all the costs that entails.

if someone has the costs to hand...?

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Re: cables and..

"to see economically this stacks up with laying a 1Gb cable between 2 places"

Sorry, can't help with the figures, but the comparison is with infinite configurations of 1GB cables from *any* point A to *any* point B, not just one cable from A to B. (although to be truly comparable,you can only use one cable at any one time)

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Seismic survey data is *very* big.

And there is a time is money issue.

BTW that's a difference between this and Globalstar, that was more an SMS system in space.

Good luck to them.

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Microsoft planned a similar service

What happened to Microsoft's fleet? I recall they were planning on having several LEO satellites supplying Internet connectivity. It wasn't aimed so much at moving large quantities of data. It was low latency connectivity with enough satellites to make always connected a reality. I don't recall that any birds actually made it uphill.

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Re: Microsoft planned a similar service

They replaced the satellites with a series of blimps.

Some of them are still in charge there.

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Why maths is important

Assuming that this thing can sustain 340Mb/s for the 90 minutes it will be in the same hemisphere (unlikely but lets play their game) it can only upload 224GB on each pass so the 1TB storage is a pointless advertising stunt. Even when they up it to 1Gb/s uplink that would only increase to 675GB of data. Given that this can only upload for half the time the bandwidth is actually currently only equivelant to 170Mb/s going up to 512Mb/s "sustained", again assuming they have a way to keep maximum bandwidth rolling for half the orbit. This also assumes that your uplink is directly opposite your downlink, and that both are directly under the orbit :o/

I'm fairly sure that a LEO satelite won't be able to service half the planet at once as it's too close.

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Re: Why maths is important

Assuming that this thing can sustain 340Mb/s for the 90 minutes it will be in the same hemisphere (unlikely but lets play their game)

ummm... the satellite is in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) so that's 90 minutes for one full orbit around the earth... then there's also the walking pattern where each orbit is offset by X degrees due to the rotation of the earth under the satellite... you might want to take a look at some screen shots of satellite orbit footprints... i'm sure that www,heavens-above.com and www.n2yo.com have some you can look at ;)

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Re: Why maths is important

www,heavens-above.com

obviously that should be www.heavens-above.com ... sorry for the typo :?

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Re: Why maths is important

It's also latitude dependent.

Your connecting dish would need to move to track the satellite.

But the basic premise of your post is correct, you would not be able to get the full payload in one pass.

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Re: Why maths is important

In a few years, it probably won't be a typo.

Expanding the range of punctuation usable in a domain could well be ICANN's next wheeze.

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Facepalm

and all these numbers assume you're the only concurrent user of this service.

hah.

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Angel

So it's running into technical limitations then?

Ok, a GB/sec isn't enough, especially when you're moving large quantities of data?

You're limited by the number of people uploading/downloading from the satellite?

If you don't get all your data up(down)loaded then you have to wait for (probably longer than) 90 minutes?

Meh, the technology is improving quickly enough so those issues won't kill the idea. Seriously, before 2020, you'll see a fairly small satellite that can upload/download/store data at impressive rates on multiple channels and crossload that data to the next bird (one of a swarm of cheaply built & cheaply launched satellites) so that up(down)loading can continue.

One satellite is an infrequent (ie, annoying) service provider. Several dozen are an invisible (and probably profitable) service that, once it starts, will be taken for granted, no-one will dream of going back to the old way.

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Re: So it's running into technical limitations then?

If you don't get all your data up(down)loaded then you have to wait for (probably longer than) 90 minutes?

depending on the passes over your location, you might get three good ones... maybe four but the middle one or two will be your best since they are the highest over head... the other passes will be your worst for signal propagation since they will be closer to each horizon...

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Re: So it's running into technical limitations then?

"Ok, a GB/sec isn't enough"

No, a Gb/sec isn't enough. A GB/sec would probably be more than adequate, being 8 times faster at 8Gb/sec.

"Meh, the technology is improving quickly enough so those issues won't kill the idea. Seriously, before 2020, you'll see a fairly small satellite that can upload/download/store data at impressive rates on multiple channels and crossload that data to the next bird (one of a swarm of cheaply built & cheaply launched satellites) so that up(down)loading can continue"

You seem to be naively assuming that intercontinental cable connections are not improving. They are, and at a much faster and more sustainable rate than using radio signals. If this tech gets anywhere near relevant there will be a load of companies who will simply lay a boat load (literally) more fibre and undercut it.

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Not sure why chain stores would need something like this for pricing updates, we used to manage OK with 4 bonded ISDN lines, which managed the overnight price updates and the offsite backup.

Even the bi-annual product file update for 10,000 product lines was only a 3mb CSV file, surely you could squirt a file like that to even the most remote places using existing technology...

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I think you're saying (at least partly) that this is a solution looking for a problem, aside from the "large lump of data from the middle of nowhere" idea. Even there, existing Iridium-style satellite comms are a worthy competitor, I'd guess.

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