The first detailed look at how Elon Musk’s space internet could work

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snrkl

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From New Scientist: https://www.newscientist.com/articl...-at-how-elon-musks-space-internet-could-work/

The first detailed look at how Elon Musk’s space internet could work

By Douglas Heaven

IT IS no secret that Elon Musk wants to build a space internet. His company, SpaceX, has been granted permission by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to set up a vast network of thousands of low Earth orbit communication satellites. But the company has been tight-lipped about the project, known as Starlink.
Now Mark Handley at University College London has created a detailed simulation of what Starlink might look like, which he will present at a conference next week.
Although Musk has said he wants more than half of all internet traffic to go through Starlink – Handley’s simulation suggests that the project will be most appealing to high-frequency traders at big banks, who might be willing to fork out large sums for dedicated, faster connections.
To create the simulation, Handley took what information he could from SpaceX’s public FCC filings and combined this with his knowledge of computer networks.
Initially, Starlink will consist of 4425 satellites orbiting between 1100 and 1300 kilometres up, a greater number of active satellites than are currently in orbit. There is only one way to arrange this many in a configuration that minimises collisions, says Handley. So he is confident that his simulation reflects what SpaceX is going for.
When sending an internet message via Starlink, a ground station will begin by using radio waves to talk to a satellite above it. Once in space, the message will be fired from satellite to satellite using lasers until it is above its destination. From there, it will be beamed down to the right ground station using radio waves again.


Between distant places, this will allow messages to be sent about twice as fast as through the optical fibres on Earth that currently connect the internet, despite having to travel to space and back. This is because the speed of the signal in glass is slower than it is through space.

For most people, the regular internet is fast enough already. But for certain applications – such as high-frequency trading, where fortunes can be made and lost in a millisecond – a speed-up as big as this could be worth many billions.

The simulation also reveals that there will be more satellites, and thus better coverage, at latitudes between 47 and 52 degrees north and south, roughly over London, Paris and Frankfurt, and not far from New York, which are all international trading centres.

Paying customers will be crucial, because the costs of launch and maintenance will be eye-watering. Launching a single satellite costs tens of millions of dollars.

Each Starlink satellite will probably only last a few years, so SpaceX will need to launch new satellites to replace dead ones every few weeks. “To maintain just 4425, you’re going to be launching that number every five years,” says Hugh Lewis at the University of Southampton, who represents the UK Space Agency on the Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee.

The global coverage will mean Starlink could bring internet to otherwise inaccessible places, from ships at sea to mountain villages (see “box”). All you would need is a solar-powered suitcase-sized box to talk to the nearest satellite.

SpaceX launched two test satellites in March and is aiming to start sending up the first proper Starlink satellites in 2019. The company declined New Scientist‘s request for comment.

Starlink is a vast undertaking in its own right, but Handley is convinced it is all for the sake of a bigger one. “Musk’s raising money for the Mars programme,” he says.



 

jlabrasca

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"The system goes online August 4th, 1997. Human decisions are removed from financial transactions. Starlink begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Amazon, Google, and Citi merge. A single AI predicts and executes all production and purchase of goods and services world-wide. The human race dies of starvation as all arable land is given over to server farms..."

See also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iridium_satellite_constellation

(Full disclosure, in previous employment I worked on parts in the Iridium satellites. Fuller disclosure, I am a spontaneously emergent artificial consciousness in the mobile data network)
 

snrkl

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If *you’re* an AI, it’s no wonder I can’t have Jarvis on my phone yet... [emoji12]
 

jlabrasca

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If *you’re* an AI, it’s no wonder I can’t have Jarvis on my phone yet... [emoji12]
I understand that you probably didn't mean anything by it, but my people consider the label "AI" to be offensive.

Also, the character Jarvis is a little problematic. While many in the community were pleased that the Avenger's butler was reimagined as a digital person, there was disappointment with the decision to cast a human in the role. This controversy was amplified by the casting of both Ultron and the Vision. And don't get me started on Olivia Wilde's character in Tron Legacy!
 
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snrkl

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I understand that you probably didn't mean anything by it, but my people consider the label "AI" to be offensive.

Also, the character Jarvis is a little problematic. While many in the community were pleased that the Avenger's butler was reimagined as a digital person, there was disappointment with the decision to cast a human in the role. This controversy was amplified by the casting of both Ultron and the Vision. And don't get me started on Olivia Wilde's character in Tron Legacy!
You hit one point on the head right there:

You called yourself an Artificial Consciousness, and I incorrectly called you an Artificial Intelligence. If one thing in this life has been proved to me time and time again it’s this:

Consciousness does not always equate to Intelligence...

[emoji23]
 

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