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

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 …

  1. Known Hero

    Musk tried to suggest that someone had fired a shot at the rocket to sabotage it

    Really .....

    Thats some complete and utter bollocks right there: Please RTFA you are mis-quoting from.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Musk tried to suggest that someone had fired a shot at the rocket to sabotage it

      And this

      SpaceX has yet to achieve anything notable that hasn’t already been done by state-backed space agencies.

      One really must be a journalist to write these things.

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    3. Paul Kunert

      Re: Musk tried to suggest that someone had fired a shot at the rocket to sabotage it

      You are correct @ Known Hero, the article has been amended.

      Best,

      Paul Kunert, editor at The Reg

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Musk tried to suggest that someone had fired a shot at the rocket to sabotage it

        Amendments should be "put on fire"

  2. Alister Silver badge

    As anyone with a vague interest in SpaceX knows, a rocket blew up on one of their launch pads in September, with no casualties except for the Facebook-owned satellite strapped to the rocket at the time.

    How long are El-Reg going to perpetuate this myth?

    It was not a Facebook owned satellite, it was a Spacecom owned satellite, built by IAI, and Facebook and EUTelsat had rented bandwidth on it.

    1. Known Hero

      I'm not sure what the writer is on about, The Reg should even seriously consider pulling this article imo.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        And the writer.

        Like a WTC tower ... "Pull it!" (apparently overheard uttered by Giuliani or something)

      2. James Hughes 1

        Almost every paragraph has a fake 'fact' in it.

        Astounding, even for El Reg.

        The whole article has a whiff of character assasination about it. I presume it was funded by a Musk detractor somewhere. ULA? Any car company?

        Or is it supposed to be humorous? In which case, it's a fail on multiple fronts.

        1. tony72

          Almost every paragraph has a fake 'fact' in it.

          Astounding, even for El Reg.

          The whole article has a whiff of character assasination about it. I presume it was funded by a Musk detractor somewhere. ULA? Any car company?

          It's a shame, because there are some interesting details about this plan that bear discussion, but the tone of the article may detract from sensible discussion. For example, I read elsewhere that the projected operational life of each of these satellites is only 5-7 years, which would seem to imply that 600+ satellites a year will need replacing. I have no idea how many such satellites can be deployed in a single launch, but it can't be that many, so that would seem to require a pretty ridiculous launch schedule. Or do they plan to somehow refurbish the satellites in orbit once they're initial operational lifespan is over? That's the kind of stuff I'd like to be talking about.

          1. nematoad Silver badge
            FAIL

            Incoming!

            With that sort of schedule lets hope that there is a plan to clean up afterwards.

            NEO is polluted enough as it is without that sort of input.

            1. DougS Silver badge

              Re: Incoming!

              Don't they typically adjust the orbit of NEO satellites to enter the atmosphere and burn up when they are retired? It is GEO satellites that are a problem, because they are too high for a safely controlled entry/burn so instead they are required to reserve fuel to boost a couple hundred miles higher to a parking orbit where they sit "forever".

  3. GreggS

    "As long as Musk continues to spout hyperbolic nonsense, though, he’ll continue getting the coverage he needs to keep the show on the road"

    Stop reporting it then. If media stopped reporting on these people then they might, just might, go away. See also, "reality tv stars", the Kardashians etc.

  4. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. JetSetJim Silver badge

        While this article is indeed a bit poo, I did enjoy this one of his.

        Perhaps he was aiming for some sarcasm but missed?

  5. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Vitriolic much? I've not see anywhere near as much on any one article here as this one. Wow....

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    I find your lack of faith disturbing.

    That is all.

    Seriously. Yes it is a big project but when you're looking to spend $10Bn on ITS you need the long cash and you need if pretty fast.

  7. GeezaGaz

    haters gonna hate

    Do I detect some bad feeling towards musk? The article couldn't get more biased

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: haters gonna hate

      Ignoring the mild (*) bias in the article, I'd still question the business case for this sort of project. It's similar to the Iridium project which was the beginning of the end of Motorola. You'd need a new radio in your receiving device (I have a sneaky suspicion that LTE/UMTS won't run over the distances involved!) and you'd be competing against regular mobile networks which, for all their sins, offer quite high bandwidth for little cost. Yes, you could fill a niche (currently filled by Iridium users) for explorers and the like who wander around to remote areas where there is no coverage, but to make money on that Iridium had to write-off significant sums of cash as bad debt.

      (*) mild - aka severe

      1. Dan Wilkie

        Re: haters gonna hate

        I think Iridium is heavily used by the shipping industry as well, not really that niche

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: haters gonna hate

          Well, there's about 100,000 commercial ships at sea at any one point in time, but I doubt they need many phones on board compared to the billions of GSM/UMTS/LTE phones out there - so in comparison it's quite niche.

          Also, you can already get reasonable broadband on a boat via satellite services, so Musk isn't offering anything new here. They are quite modest on bandwidth, though, and latency is likely to be poor - anything that can be done to improve that will no doubt be warmly received, and competition may well lower prices for that market.

        2. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Shipping

          Iridium is owned by US gov, as military backup.

          Most shipping uses other satellite resources.

          1. Mike Pellatt

            Re: Shipping

            Indeed. Immarsat are the big boys.

          2. JetSetJim Silver badge

            Re: Shipping

            > Iridium is owned by US gov, as military backup.

            Erm - Iridium is a publicly traded company, currently worth about a fifth of INMARSAT. US Gov institutions don't seem to appear on the investor holdings pages, either...

            The US DoD does account for about a quarter of Iridium's revenue, though (or it did in 2012 according to the wiki-gods)

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_Communications

  8. JaffaMan

    Errr, excuse me?

    "SpaceX has yet to achieve anything notable that hasn’t already been done by state-backed space agencies."

    Really? Really!?

    Did you miss the landings of an orbital class rocker first stage which many state-backed space agencies said couldn't be done? From a company that was founded only 14 years ago. Who are currently developing some of the most powerful engines and launch systems out there, in a fraction of the time and costs of rivals.

    Wow. Not easily impressed are you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Errr, excuse me?

      Indeed, the writer is coming across as a bit of a cunt.

  9. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Boffin

    "Just like the Moonraker goes in search of his dream of gold..."

    x

  10. S4qFBxkFFg

    "SpaceX has yet to achieve anything notable that hasn’t already been done by state-backed spaaace agencies."

    rogermooreeyebrow.jpg

    They are recovering booster stages (dry),with enough successes to rule out luck.

    This is re-usability without space shuttle levels of non-payload mass.

    That's not notable?

  11. hplasm Silver badge
    FAIL

    Oh dear where is the RIP REG icon.

    As long as The Register continues to spout hyperbolic nonsense, though, they’ll continue getting the coverage he needs to keep the show on the road.

    Hyperbolic bollics, the whole thing.

    No tech journos availabe?

  12. Mark 110

    Cars

    As for the car business making a loss, its hardly unusual for a new product in any market to run a loss for a while til it gets the economies of scale it needs to become profitable. Basic economics.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Cars

      As always, people need to compare Tesla with other car companies, and in that they don't do too badly for a beginner.

      I believe the latest Model S now has the record for the fastest accelerating road car (or will once the next SW update comes out). Also, not bad for a beginner. (0-60mph 2.3s)

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Cars

        The cars are subsidized by all tax payers for a rich elite. However the article is misleading in tone, though certainly hyperloop and some other Musk ideas are not practical, or in the case of "power wall" sensible.

        The Energia + Buran was supposed to be more re-usable than US Shuttle. Time will tell how viable the Space X is. It's too early yet.

        Supposedly Energia components are still in production use in other rockets and there has been recent talk of a new version, spurred by competition from China, Ariane (just signed off next version), India and indeed SpaceX.

        There is already the OB2 project (SES-Astra partnered with others) with real satellites in orbit to avoid latency of the geostationary birds.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Cars

          I think the "power wall" as such is a good idea; it's the execution that sucks. Rather a case of "too little, too early". A bit like the Sinclair C5, maybe.

          As to the subsidized cars - I like to think of it as crowdfunding. Quite like railroads some 150 years ago.

    2. ITnoob

      Re: Cars

      Gross profit per car is a little under 23% - http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2016/03/27/how-tesla-motors-could-be-profitable-if-it-wanted.aspx

      Amazon never made any money for years and yet the sun shines out of Bezos' backside.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this an ironic 'Post-Truth' article?

    In this case, the content is lies, bullshit and half-baked assertions based on personal bias.

    Or is it clever satire on such articles, in a world where fact is replaced with fiction in a post-truth world.

    PS - I doubt it's the latter, or if it is, then you need irony and humour adding - because this one just makes you look like a twat.

  14. Eric Olson

    Benefit of the doubt...

    Gareth Corfield is trying to write in the style of the fake news sites that created viral articles for the ad money.

    And if this was an article about US politics, government, certain subjects about Facebook or Google, Russian hackers, or teens writing fake news stories, the shtick might have worked.

    However, as this article is about Elon Musk, a South African who resides in California that made his money off of PayPal and other ventures, the satire (if that's what it is) falls very flat. Instead, as commented upon numerous times, it comes across as an angry person who was slighted by Musk, or maybe was ignored at a recent press conference by Musk or people from Musk's interests.

  15. Frenchie Lad

    madman Elon Musk

    The first line says it all about the quality of the rest of the article. The worst is the smugness of the writer. I wouldn't describe him as a journalist. Frustrated he must be to scribble such an incendiary article.

    As for this 1st. line, surely it opens El Reg to libel.

    Where's the editorial control or has it too succumbed to mediocrity.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Coat

      "Frustrated he must be"

      Frustration leads to the Dark Side.

  16. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge
    Coat

    There surely are some redeeming qualities in the article.

    For example a fleet of 4000 satellites - I heard first time about this from El Reg!

    As for the rest of the article - I couldn't care less ...

    EDIT: the interesting part about 4000 satellites is not the number, it is the orbit they will be on. Because, if it is low enough, the latency might be much better than the current offering on the market. Of course low orbit implies lots of speed relative to the surface and also more atmospheric friction. Plenty to discuss and learn about actually. And instead the reporter chose to focus on ... oh c'mon. Really, this is embarrassing.

  17. Mr Commenty McComentface
    FAIL

    Bollocks.

    WTF El Reg? How the hell did this pile of steaming crap get published?

    Bet this is the last time you let the janitorial staff try and write articles!

    Gareth, word of advice, don't give up your day job. What, it IS your day job you say? Then give up, please just give up... go work for MaccieD's or something.

  18. MatthewE

    Honestly thought I was reading the Daily Mail then!

    This kind of article is not why I visit this site!

    It's almost as if you are wanting to write trash to get people writing comments to click more adverts and get those precious impressions up on your site for advertisers!

    Shame on you Reg!

  19. rh587 Bronze badge

    Honestly thought I was reading the Daily Mail then!

    This kind of article is not why I visit this site!

    Agreed. I'm all for a vigorous opinion piece that pulls no punches (Mr Pott does a decent job there), but such a piece needs to be open and honest. Not only should it embrace it's bias, but it needs to walk the walk as effectively as it talks the talk - "this is shit because x".

    Gareth has just earnestly shitposted at least a half-dozen fake "facts" through that diatribe to support his claims regarding Musk's state-of-mind. If you want to roast someone, this is not how you do it.

  20. Paul Woodhouse

    Wut????

    prob. the most bizarre article I've ever red on El Reg... kept looking for and not finding a punchline...

  21. MakingBacon

    And the winner of the category ...

    Most complete utter bollox award for non-journalistic content (but attempted character assassination instead) goes to ...

    /drum roll

    Gareth Corfield

    Congrats!

  22. moiety

    Came here to administer a shoeing to the author; but you guys have already done a splendid job. Carry on chaps!

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Pint

      @moiety

      Me, also.

      Here, have a coffee and some popcorn and we can watch the fun.

      (uMm Reg, we need a popcorn icon....)

      (closest possible match)

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Well proven tech"

    The Shanghai maglev is currently the only high speed maglev in service, and does not run in an evacuated tube. The high speed Japanese maglev is a test system, and the other in service maglevs are shuttle trains. Hardly the same thing.

  24. Dan McIntyre
    Terminator

    Would this be named Skynet if it comes to fruition....?

  25. tony2heads
    Boffin

    4000 satellites in a similar orbit

    Kessler syndrome on the way....

    1. asphytxtc

      Re: 4000 satellites in a similar orbit

      ... I think basic orbital mechanics says otherwise. Being in the same orbit requires they also have the same orbital velocity. Even counting ever so minor differences between satellites, they'd have de-orbited from atmospheric drag long before they'd catch up to one another, even in the case of a failed satellite.

      Although I will admit, something other than another MuskSat impacting them could be a little messy. Looking at their filing from today though, they've picked orbital altitudes/inclinations that are basically clear of debris and have a very thorough de-orbiting process at the end of their useful service life to quickly get them out of the sky (and not just parked into graveyard orbits). 4000 may sound a lot, but there's a very, very low risk of triggering KS in reality :)

      And even if it does happen, whilst it would undoubtedly be bad for the satellites in similar orbits, the mess would de-orbit relatively quickly (in the order of years most likely). It certainly wouldn't be the space age apocalypse it would seem..

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wha?

    Never commented before, just had to after reading this this, er, well it's not an article, I'm not sure what it is. I mean I don't expect un-opinionated stuff, but usually it's funny, isn't it?

  27. Arthur the cat Silver badge

    Musk initially plans to launch 800 satellites to cover the US

    If he can get 800 satellites to cover just the US we might as well surrender the planet to him now as he's obviously got alien technology.

    Either that or it's crappy reporting. [Looks at previous 47 comments.] Oh, right.

  28. Andrew Jones 2

    Satellite internet has frustrating lag - given the choice, I'd prefer 56k dial-up thanks.....

    1. Bronek Kozicki Silver badge

      I found elsewhere these are meant to fly only ~1500km above Earth. This means a radio link would be probably less than 6000km (you will not track fast-moving satellite all the way to horizon, so likely distance will be even less than that - which is exactly the reason why so many satellites are needed). This distance translates to 20ms. Add another 20ms for connection from satellite back to Earth and you have 40ms overhead, at most. This is much better than 35,800km for geostationary orbit with round-trip latency ~240ms.

      I think all satellite internet providers are currently using only geostationary orbit. A large number of low-flying satellites is definitely breaking the mould.

      1. Alister Silver badge

        A large number of low-flying satellites is definitely breaking the mould.

        Not to mention seriously impeding any further earth launched space travel under the orbital path of all of those whizzing satellites.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A large number of low-flying satellites is definitely breaking the mould.

        Hardly. See "Iridium"

        This is "simply" at a larger scale. And maybe lower altitude. Couldn't be arsed to google it.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019