×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Charity Raising Money To Buy Used Satellite

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the asynchronous-bargain dept.

The Internet 175

Zothecula writes "For those of us who live in the developed world, internet access has become pretty much a given. It's become so ubiquitous that we almost expect to have it at all times and in all places, but even in this 'Information Age,' the majority of the world's population lacks access to the internet – either because service isn't available where they are, or they can't afford it. Kosta Grammatis has a plan, however. Through his charity group ahumanright.org, Grammatis aims to set up a network of satellites that will provide free internet access to everyone in the world. He's starting by attempting to buy a single used satellite that's already in orbit and moving it to a location above a developing country."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

175 comments

Free access for all... (4, Informative)

Llamahand (1275482) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154608)

...with a satellite receiver and a computer. Oh, and electricity. And probably enough food and water not to die before they get online.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154658)

Don't nearly all places have phonelines? 50k may not be as fast as 500k satellite, but it is a lot cheaper (almost free).

If I knew someone without internet I'd just hand them a $50 used laptop with Netzero installed, and let them explore.

Re:Free access for all... (4, Interesting)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154714)

Not in sub-Saharan Africa or even India.

India has 33.77 million land lines wired, 670 million cellular phones.

For sub-Saharan Africa, a place like Cameroon has 323,000 wired phones for a population of 19.3 million people.

Re:Free access for all... (0, Troll)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154746)

Wouldn't it really be VERY unfair to give them access to the Internet?

I mean, they'd get on...look at all the quality porn....and see all the women out there that are nutritionally sound, have nice hair, bodies in good shape and no flies on them.

Just torture for them to see that, and then look around at what's actually available to them...

Re:Free access for all... (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155212)

I see.
  - When I saw all those Indian and other foreign language stations at dialup speeds (28k and lower), I thought they probably existed for all those citizens having their phone internet. Guess not.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155352)

The might have been for the limited number of land lines and connections into the cellular networks and microwave networks.

My understanding of the rapid and widespread deployment of cellular in the Third World is someone puts up a microwave relay or sat link in a city with connections to fiber and the rest of the world, while out in the countryside they put up a microwave or satellite link and then spread cellular antennas out as far as they can.

Re:Free access for all... (2)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154786)

Most developing countries are skipping the wired land line entirely. It's much cheaper to set up cell towers and have mobile phones than to lay all the infrastructure required to give adequate coverage via land lines.

Re:Free access for all... (1, Insightful)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154812)

Cell towers use land lines.

Re:Free access for all... (3, Informative)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154854)

Only in places that already have them. Otherwise they use microwave to connect together.

Oh, and connecting a single tower with a line is a lot more efficient than connection thousands of homes.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

postbigbang (761081) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154982)

Cell towers don't really do data that well, and the backhaul is tough, too.

Were it feasible, fiber optic to the hut might be a better idea.

Oh, wait....

Re:Free access for all... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154870)

Cell towers use land lines.

Maybe.
It might use microwave or fiber as a back haul.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155040)

Cell towers use land lines.

Sorta, for some definition of land line. Mostly they use fiber links, when they aren't microwave backhauling. Which is very good, because there is almost no aftermarket for "recycled" fiber.

On the other hand, a couple feet of copper telco cable, when euphemistically "recycled" is roughly equal to a couple days of a 3rd worlders income. All that unguarded copper just laying around... Installing POTS loop-start landlines is kind of a losing proposition in the 3rd world.

If you thought home grown meth heads were motivated to steal and recycle copper... Of course most 3rd world areas don't exactly have the rule of law, so they shoot on sight anyone suspected of stealing cables, making it primarily an organized crime operation.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155104)

Traditional landline phones require a LOT more infrastructure than cell towers. Yeah the towers need to be connected up somehow (which is usually a land based link but IIRC in some areas that is done with point to point microwave links using high gain antennas) but if call density is low one tower can serve a pretty large area (a quick google search says 35km radius is the limit). Covering an area with traditional landlines means running cable down virtually every road.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154958)

Not necessarily, some time ago I met some OLPC developers who were talking about how email was being sent in some mountainous region they had been visiting; some local man had the job of travelling from village to village with a thumb drive, literally carrying email until an Internet connection was available to send it. I also heard something about setting up long range wifi in such regions.

America has put phone lines (mostly) everywhere, sure; the rest of the world, not so much.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155144)

Don't nearly all places have phonelines? 50k may not be as fast as 500k satellite, but it is a lot cheaper (almost free).

LET THEM EAT CAKE!

Re:Free access for all... (4, Insightful)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154702)

I've heard that logic before somewhere [penny-arcade.com]...

Solving one deficiency can occur in a separate channel and in a separate timeframe than other deficiencies and still be valuable in any sphere where development is not wholly homogeneous. Or, put more simply, where there are some people in the developing world that have all the prerequisites and still no internet, this potentially helps them (though I'm not sure how they're even expected to receive the signals).

Re:Free access for all... (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154808)

"Developing nation" does not necessarily mean "nation filled with people who are starving and lack clothes." Additionally, it is not necessarily the case that the people targeted by this program would want Internet access in their homes; I have heard that in some very rural areas in developing nations, it is common for a village to possess a few communally owned cell phones (apparently they can get reception) which they use for long distance communications. I think it is likely that in such places, a single communal computer with an Internet connection would be greatly appreciated.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154984)

Additionally, it is not necessarily the case that the people targeted by this program would want Internet access in their homes; I have heard that in some very rural areas in developing nations, it is common for a village to possess a few communally owned cell phones .

You are describing a system of communal ownership forced on them by their costs and their income level.
Its unlikely that would persist if they could obtain free internet service.

Granted there may be some religious / cultural prohibitions against computers or cell phones, (especially for women in some rather oppressive cultures), but that is not common.

Re:Free access for all... (1, Insightful)

Hooya (518216) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154848)

Yeah, about that "Food and Water":

It seems, we haven't solved that one yet in the "Richest" nation. [feedingamerica.org] What say you, we drop this internet crap and focus first on that basic human need right here in America?

Or do you have something against people like William Kamkwamba [wikipedia.org] who might find the internet a halfway decent resource to better their situation?

Re:Free access for all... (2)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155554)

Yeah, about that "Food and Water":

It seems, we haven't solved that one yet in the "Richest" nation. [feedingamerica.org] What say you, we drop this internet crap and focus first on that basic human need right here in America?

The hunger issue has been solved at least 4 times throughout history. In all cases as soon as hunger was no longer a limiting factor the population grew until it was again.

1) There were enough resources in North America to feed all of Europe, until North Americans started populating
2) Agricultural revolution brought about by "chemically synthesized inorganic fertilizers"
3) The ability to increase farming due to "cheap oil", corn is often referred to as edible oil
4) Norman Borlaug pioneered genetically modified crops allowing hardy wheat strains to grow in otherwise unusable land in Mexico, etc.

In all those cases, had the population stabilized, there would have been enough food from those advancements to feed the world. In fact, those advancements are what allowed the populations to grow, proving there will always be hunger issues. It's one of the few limiting factors to our growth.

Re:Free access for all... (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155334)

Sure, free access for all, .... someday, ..... which will never really happen. But the first step is to make sure that Mrs. Awagawabutuwa, the widow of the late banker Mr. Awagawabutuwa, in Nigeria has free Internet access, so that she can help get the money in her late husband's bank to the right people before the corrupt government gets it. What could possibly go wrong?

Buying used satellites is . . . (1)

Suki I (1546431) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154612)

Buying used satellites is just buying someone else's problems. Unless it is a cool classic satellite with tail fins.

Re:Buying used satellites is . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154826)

The most important problem of those will be "how do I keep it in orbit (and move it to a graveyard orbit later) with hardly any fuel left over?"... Satellites generally do not rely entirely on their initial velocity to stay geostationary, and it's considered good manners to move them to a slightly higher orbit after use so they don't add to the space debris problem.

Right... (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154620)

Buying a used satellite is like buying a used bus... the only reason someone would sell it is because it has become cheaper to buy a new one than to maintain the old one!

Re:Right... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154700)

Not quite - TFA says "Given that the company that owns it, Terrestar, has recently filed for bankruptcy, it may soon be up for sale."

Re:Right... (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155102)

Terrestar? Hey, I interviewed with those guys four years ago. Guess it's a good thing I didn't get that job, after all.

Re:Right... (2)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155312)

"...the only reason someone would sell it is because it has become cheaper to buy a new one than to maintain the old one!"

I fully expect some ISP out there to outbid these guys on the satellite simply to keep it out of their hands. Hell, they could drop a few million on the thing and simply let it rot in space--as long as the competition hurts more then them in the process, they still win.

Either that, or they simply lobby Congress to block the purchase for whatever reason, probably for something along the lines of "unfair business practices" simply because free is too hard to compete with.

Great idea (really!), but there are simply too many competitors with a lot more capital to spend, and as far as I know, bankruptcy courts will require open bidding on assets which means these guys will need a lot more then $150k. Any legal eagles out there able to clarify?

Re:Right... (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155434)

Don't think the ISPs are worrying about connection to the middle of no where. If they wanted the customers, they could have already gotten them service.

Re:Right... (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155488)

This wouldn't need to be NEARLY as good as a commercial ISP to be very useful to people with nothing. For example, let's say you only get service for 5 minutes twice per day, with 2 second latency, and a daily cap of 10 KB.

There's a lot you could do with that! You could stay in pretty good touch with the world, just with that. It would still be quicker to send a letter to anybody on earth than ANY mail service before the telegram. I would find it fascinating to have correspondence with somebody in North Korea, just on that basis.

Re:Right... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155364)

Except the TFA makes one huge error - Terrestar has filed under Chapter 11 (reorganization), not Chapter 7 (dissolution). As TerreStar-1 is it's primary operational asset, the odds of it coming up for sale are somewhere between slim and none.

And that's the *least* of the problems with the whole scheme... TerreStar-1 in in GEO, which means it will take weeks to months to relocate to cover a crisis area (making the dubious assumption that a parking slot is available). On top of that, the plan also assumes the people it's meant to help already have (or can be shipped) the necessary ground networking equipment and mobile equipment.

Re:Right... (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154814)

Sometimes people buy new things because they have more buttons and levers, not just because the old one is broken down.

Re:Right... (1)

CookieForYou (1945108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154864)

Generally, businesses don't invest in LAUNCH VEHICLE and FIRE THINGS INTO SPACE because they have more buttons, figuratively or literally.

Spending a hundred million dollars as a business, without a credible cost-benefit analysis and proof of return on investment is just silly.

Re:Right... (1)

smelch (1988698) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154946)

So what did you mean by figuratively if you didn't mean "more capable for their [new] business needs than the old one"?

Re:Right... (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155058)

Spending a hundred million dollars as a business, without a credible cost-benefit analysis and proof of return on investment is just silly.

You make it sound as simple as the video game business.

Re:Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154912)

That applies a lot less when you're taking about something that in orbit.

Re:Right... (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154898)

Buying a used satellite is like buying a used bus... the only reason someone would sell it is because it has become cheaper to buy a new one than to maintain the old one!

Nice quip, but it isn't true.

First of all, satellites don't have maintenance, unless it is something like the hubble telescope. You don't call your local tech support guy and have him fly up there and fix some wiring. If they don't work, you de-orbit them. So the maintenance cost is zero.

Next, "cheaper to buy a new one" is unlikely to be true given the launch costs.

Re:Right... (1)

vbraga (228124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155090)

If they don't work, you de-orbit them. So the maintenance cost is zero.

Only if you ignore ground station costs. People, antennas, computers, orbit corrections if the reaction subsystem (I don't know if this is the correct translation) needs some work, and so on.

Things (even the ones that are redundant) keeps failing - reaction wheels, foldable structures, and so on. - and the mechanical behavior might change a bit. Software corrections too.

Keeping a spaceship flying is costly. I think buying used is somewhat a very strange idea. Satellites have a determined lifetime and, while sometimes they can outlast it greatly, it's prone to fail soon if someone wants to sell it.

Launching through Orbital using that missile-like launcher is not very expensive (comparing it against ULA-like launch costs) although I believe insurance costs are higher.

Re:Right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154954)

Yes but ... If you don't mind moving your satellite dish eveery 4 hours, an inclined orbit beats nothing. Also, if half of the transponders are dead, it's still cheaper than leasing space on a good satellite. Your cost/benefit equation is a little different as a non-pprofit then as a commercial provider.

You don't know anything... (4, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155134)

Buying a used satellite is like buying a used bus... the only reason someone would sell it is because it has become cheaper to buy a new one than to maintain the old one!

If you believe that, you don't know anything about the satellite communications business.

I've been working at this for over a quarter of a century, and let me tell you that there are many factors that would influence buying a used satellite.

- How much remaining lifetime does it have?
- Do I need it right now, or can I wait the 2 years+ it would take to build a new one?
- Is it in inclined orbit?
- What's the coverage footprint?
- What's the frequency plan?
- What's the EIRP?
- What's the receive G/T?
- Do I have the landing rights?
- Does it have failed transponders, or any other failure?

It often happens that one has a satellite that will be perfect for someone else, but for our own specific purpose we need a replacement.

Re:You don't know anything... (1)

isotope23 (210590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155324)

Wouldn't it be ALOT cheaper to get a crapload of weather balloons and put some wireless gear on them, then tether them?
Alternately what about some GPS enable RC airplanes with wireless gear????

Re:Right... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155310)

On several occasions I've purchased old school buses, with seats that were so decapitated they were no longer suitable for passengers, cut the back off of them and turned them into a cheap flatbed truck. Just because a device can no longer efficiently complete the task it was designed for does not mean it can not be repurposed for another, just as useful task,

Need more then a satellite. (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154624)

At some point, its going to have to tie into earth bound networks. That's where a lot of the ongoing cost is going to come from. But then perhaps the backbone providers can allow access in exchange for a tax write off.

Re:Need more then a satellite. (1)

mackai (1849630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154908)

There really is a lot more to the challenge of making use of such a thing. The satellites that are stationary with respect to an observer on earth are in a very sought for orbit over the equator. If the used satellite is not already in a geostationary orbit, the new owner is unlikely to be allowed to get it there. So I see that there may be lots of hurdles including the hardware expense to distribute the satellite signal to the intended audience. However, I applaud the notion and wish them success. A non geostationary orbit satellite is much more likely to be affordable but establishing continuous contact is then much more difficult.

In the cloud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154630)

Fuck that! My data is in SPACE!

Internet Access Is NOT A Human Right!!! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154632)

These guys de-value what a human right actually is with this silly notion. It's simply a service, one that must be paid for, maintained and serviced.

Nuff said.

Re:Internet Access Is NOT A Human Right!!! (1)

GodricL (1898284) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154710)

I would have thought Stan Lee would be a little less insensitive.

Re:Internet Access Is NOT A Human Right!!! (0)

ravyne (858869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154934)

Should free access to information (eg, freedom of the press would be one form) be a human right?

Let us not also forget that Education is considered a Human Right as well, as is free access to healthcare (both controversially, I might add). Both consume massive resources to maintain and service. So, either the DUHR is rather wildly off-base, or the free access to information (which really only the internet can provide at scale) is not so wild a thought to propose as belonging to the set of human rights.

Re:Internet Access Is NOT A Human Right!!! (1)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155184)

No. And it's not at all like freedom of the press. The government can't stop political speech being printed in newspapers. That doesn't mean that the government has to *buy everyone a newspaper*.

Re:Internet Access Is NOT A Human Right!!! (1)

ravyne (858869) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155528)

But, according the the UDHR, someone (IE the government) *has* to provide free healthcare and *has* to provide free education. My point was that if, in the UDHR, it is decreed that these things must be provided for, then its not that much of a stretch for someone to call it to provide free (as in beer) access to free (as in freedom) information as well. Obviously even in the US we don't provide free healthcare, and its also fair to note that our "free" education is paid for with taxes, as would be our "free" healthcare and "free" access to information.

Setting aside the logistics of providing access, I'm fairly certain we can agree that it should be a human right to not be *denied* access to free information, as various nations have done (temporarily in the face of so-called emergency, eg Egypt) or effectively permanently by refusing infrastructure or shaping the type of information that can be transmitted (eg China).

So, in a situation like Egypt or China, does the "free world" have any duty to step in and say that these nations are violating the human rights of their citizens, and how do they take action to rectify the situation? We (as in the US) have the technology to blanket an area with 3G coverage, for example, through specially equipped planes and with other signals through satellites (and the recent increased interest in blimp technology would be applicable here as well). So what, if anything, should be done?

Re:Internet Access Is NOT A Human Right!!! (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155538)

The point of Internet access being a right is not that everyone gets it for free but that the government can't make laws that prevent you from buying the service from someone. For example what was recently done in Egypt, that would be a violation of the people's right to internet access.

Re:Internet Access Is NOT A Human Right!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35155386)

Maybe if we take yours away you'll change your mind.

Woot! (4, Funny)

grub (11606) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154652)


The moment some impoverished person starts sharing a shitty screener of True Grit, the MPAA will have a missile launched at the satellite.

Re:Woot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154722)

Let me know when the video of the missile launch is up on bit torrent. I would download and watch that

Re:Woot! (1)

RavenChild (854835) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155316)

More likely they will goe 3-strikes with us, send out 2 DMCA notices and reserve the last for our government kill switch. Too conspiracy theorist? Just take a look at how friendly the White House is with the *AA fellows. They'll enact 3-strikes with a name like Protect Our Receptive Newborns and Abolish Worldwide Atrocious Yuckystuff (PORN AWAY for short). You're not protecting your children if you vote no.

Riiiiight.... (2)

twebb72 (903169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154740)

As soon as they get a couple 100,000 users (most of which will likely be in developed nations, just don't wanna pay) they'll figure out a way to start charging. No ISP is free.

Sounds great... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154742)

... free Internet to increase piracy, spam, and malware... Does the free Internet come with a guide on how to not get pwned? "Free Internet" sounds like "come abuse me!"

This might be the answer to the Kill Switch (4, Insightful)

StillNeedMoreCoffee (123989) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154750)

If we had the satelites above then it might be possible to bypass the kill switch in any country. Remove the Kill Switch option through parallel paths.

Re:This might be the answer to the Kill Switch (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154960)

If it gets to the point that a government has and uses a kill switch chances are they won't blink at having to shoot a satellite down.

Re:This might be the answer to the Kill Switch (4, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155084)

If it gets to the point that a government has and uses a kill switch chances are they won't blink at having to shoot a satellite down.

Its harder to do that you'd think. If a countries greatest achievement is a giant pile of rocks, they're probably not going to be successful.

be more like Tonga (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154784)

Or perhaps he could just sell his orbital slot like these guys [wikipedia.org] and use the money to establish a more honest government or a school.

Re:be more like Tonga (3, Interesting)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154890)

Interestingly enough, Tonga is also the location that Interorbital Systems decided would serve best for their launch site because the country was so friendly to the idea of developing the space industry. Each time I hear about it I learn a little bit more about this interesting little country.

Space wars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154834)

You guys do know the United States and a few other countries have missiles that will destroy orbiting satellites right?

Re:Space wars! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155008)

Not satellites in geo synchronous orbits.

The US and Chinese can reach up to about 300 miles.

Re:Space wars! (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155222)

Not satellites in geo synchronous orbits.

The US and Chinese can reach up to about 300 miles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASM-135_ASAT [wikipedia.org]

The ancient ASM-135 topped out, optimistically, around 350 miles.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RIM-161_Standard_Missile_3 [wikipedia.org]

The SM3 has never been tried above 130 miles.

The Chinese recently popped one about 540 miles up.

The soviet system from the 60s had a somewhat different strategy where it pretty much did the rendezvous and instead of docking, blew up. Something to think about with those automated, autodocking Progress resupply rockets to the ISS is that pretty is a peaceful application of an old ASAT design. Theoretically anyone whom feels like lauching a geosync sat (admittedly a pretty small and elite group) could send up a special care package that goes boom... This would probably end up semi-permanently ruining the geosync belt for all nations, probably not going to win them many christmas cards.

Re:Space wars! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155330)

The Chinese ICBM ASAT should be able to hit something up to 750-900 miles because thats the highest apogee for an ICBM you find references too.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGM-30_Minuteman [wikipedia.org]

The US Ground Based Interceptors don't have a demonstrated ASAT capability, but the kill vehicle from the shot in the Pacific was derived from the GBI kill vehicle and they have a max altitude of around 850-950 miles.

Moving a geosync satellite, eh? (1)

LineGrunt (133002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154856)

Get ready to write a big check to Mr. Kepler...

Re:Moving a geosync satellite, eh? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154918)

Why? geosync satellites drift of their own accord without station keeping. If you are not in a rush it will be pretty cheap.

Re:Moving a geosync satellite, eh? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154944)

I'm glad someone else posted this. Is it even possible to a geosynchronous satellite?

Re:Moving a geosync satellite, eh? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154992)

I'm glad someone else posted this. Is it even possible to a geosynchronous satellite?

One time I accidentally a whole geosynchronous satellite.

Re:Moving a geosync satellite, eh? (2)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155118)

Yes, commercial satellites can be moved to different orbital positions and occasionally are. For example to replace a failed satellite with an in-orbit spare or to deploy it to a new market or even to kick it out of its orbital slot at the end of its life. However, it may deplete the station keeping fuel (perhaps hydrazine gas) which may mean it then has less fuel to remain on station and hence a reduced residual service lifetime. I say may, because it may be that a highly inclined (ie, allowed to drift off-position) orbit is quite acceptable and can be tracked form the ground for this purpose and so something running on the last fumes of hydrazine might suffice. Or maybe the satellite they buy has an alternative propulsion system (ion drive perhaps).
It seems to me that a satellite with plenty of fuel remaining might not fall into the clunker category; so if they're looking for something with more than 5 or so years of life they might do much better to ask a university to launch something tailored to their exact need, maybe into low earth orbit.

Re:Moving a geosync satellite, eh? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155446)

Telestar-1 (the satellite) was launched around 2009 and apparently is pretty advanced [terrestar.com]. Their website, although as usual devoid of anything remotely technical does have this to say:

A significant factor in TerreStar's IOT success was validating that TerreStar-1's 18 meter 2GHz S Band reflector was performing as designed. It is this very large reflector that enables voice, data and video communications to be transmitted to mobile devices the size of a typical smartphone.

"The completion of in-orbit testing has verified several new technologies developed by Space Systems/Loral and our key suppliers," said John Celli, President and Chief Operating Officer, Space Systems/Loral (SS/L). "We are pleased to report that all of the new developments meet or exceed performance expectations. In particular, the S-band antenna, which includes an 18-meter reflector developed by Harris Corporation and a complex feed array developed by SS/L, has been verified by measurements of the antenna patterns on the ground. The reflector mesh is correctly aligned to the feed and the surface shape is accurate."

TerreStar is now entering the Ground Based Beam Forming (GBBF) testing phase. With GBBF, TerreStar-1 is capable of generating more than 500 simultaneous spot beams, enabling the satellite's power to be directed where it is needed the most at any point in time.

Which strongly implies that it's pretty much state of the art. I rather doubt that this one is going to go on the block for only 150K and even it is, there are the previously mentioned holes in TFA - how they plan to move it, how they plan to get permission to move it, what orbit it is currently in vs. what they want, how they're going to hook this to to rest of the Internet (likely to cost more than 150K by itself in terms of ground station and tie in).

Sounds like an "I want a Pony" moment.

Re:Moving a geosync satellite, eh? (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155162)

Yes, but it's simply easier to it instead.

All kidding aside, yes, you can move them. The problem is that each bird is generally orbited with a set amount of fuel, usually reserved for small orbital adjustments and/or the final de-orbital burn that causes the satellite to get the hell out of the way and burn up in the atmosphere like a good orbital citizen.

So, either the repositioning is going to take a lot of time (make a small adjustment to nudge the bird out of geosync, allow its new position to catch up with it, and nudge it back), or a lot of fuel (same basic process, but more of a push than a nudge). This fuel expenditure will, by necessity, reduce the satellite's longevity. The owner might decide to use all fuel for orbital corrections, extending the satellite's mission life but turning it into geosync space junk and locking out a useful geosync slot for quite some time.

I doubt any of this is really relevant, honestly. TFA cites an Irridium satellite that went for $23 million on the used market, which was itself considered a bargain because the bird cost $5 billion to orbit. These guys are talking about trying to buy a functional satellite from a bankruptcy auction for less than 1% of that. Their bid will be lost in the initial flurry of lowball attempts that the caller uses to warm his voice up.

It's like going to a popular automotive auction with $200 to spend and finding out the only car there has a bluebook value of $20,000. You're wasting your time. Bidding will start somewhere around 20-30 times your final offer.

On the upside, they've raised some money. Once the satellite goes to someone else, I wonder how many solar-panel-powered WiFi repeaters you can build for a couple hundred grand?

Ground control to Major Tom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154976)

There is this minor issue of a ground station. Also, being somewhat used, how much fuel does it have left?

Anyhoo, it is neat idea to start a satellite company this way.

Mmmmmm (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35154980)

Lantancy...

There is a good reason why the internet isn't provided by satellites...

Re:Mmmmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35155064)

You're quite right that the latency of a satellite is horrid compared to fiber or copper.

But it's *nothing* compared to the latency of truck-net, guy-on-a-donkey-net, or walk-to-the-nearest-city-net.

Nah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35154998)

The less mid-eastern people have access to internet, the safer we all are!

Build infrastructure instead (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155026)

Wouldn't it be more beneficial to take the money and build the infrastructure for the internet inside the country? This way, not only do they get internet access, they get jobs through the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure. This puts more money into their economy, more people are going to be able to afford internet, and those who can't afford internet will at least have more money to spend on food. Since he'd be donating this, it can be given to a state that is actually trying to develop and has a minimal amount of corruption. That would help ensure that the money is going towards what its supposed to. But internet access alone will not push a state into development unless is has the economic backbone to support it.

Re:Build infrastructure instead (1)

Isaac-1 (233099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155484)

Depending on the culture and stability in the country ground based infrastructure (particularly things like unmanned repeater sites, etc) make great targets for theft. The interenet is down again because someone stole the generator/solar panels, at the wireless repeater station on top of the mountain.

Diamond Laser Satellite From James Bond (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155032)

I'd rather buy the used Diamond Laser Satellite from James Bond Diamonds Are Forever: http://www.jamesbondmm.co.uk/gadgets/daf-gadgets?id=006 [jamesbondmm.co.uk]

Do you think that I can get this recognized as a charity with a goal of: "Buying a giant diamond laser satellite that will be used to hold the world for ransom" ? The Bill Gates Foundation would certainly get on board.

Not a right (1)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155080)

The internet is not a right... a cellphone is not a right, a car is not a right, modern technology is not a right, it's a privilege. While it sucks that people in some parts of the world don't have access to our fancy dancy technology, they have more important things to worry about like clean water, healthy food, safety from oppressive governments and war. I doubt they care about free internet. The developed world already has free WIFI. I can connect to 3 or 4 "free" access points from my couch, or go to starbucks, mcdonalds, or just about any savvy business.

Re:Not a right (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155176)

The Internet is a right. Finland made it a legal right. The UN says it's a human right. French courts have ruled it's a fundamental right. The US told Egypt it's a right. 80% of Earthers polled say it's a right.

Cutting off people's communications to dull their abilty to wage politics is one of those things no government should have the right to do. And that means that the internet is a right.

Now, since the internet requires infrastructure, there's some question as to how it gets built out to you, but that's logistics, not law. Nobody said the "free" in "freedom" meant "gratis". Once you have access to it, the government can't arbitrarily take that away. That's what rights are.

Re:Not a right (1)

frog_strat (852055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155268)

I read an interesting claim that you don't have famine in democracies. Of course if this is true, it is still just a correlation. But I would not be surprised if the point of the assertion were true; that the flow of information could affect seemingly unrelated things like food or water access, or health care.

Re:Not a right (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155562)

Thanks for speaking on behalf of "people in some parts of the world". Reality check: clean water, healthy food, safety from oppressive governments and war are all access to information problems.

Wonderfully idealistic and woefully thought out (1)

schnell (163007) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155226)

Even if you scrape up the money to buy a geosynchronous satellite and move it, it still costs a fair amount of money to keep the satellite in orbit and on station. You also will need to have acquired an orbital slot to where you want to move it. And you also have to maintain one or more earth stations from which the data traffic relayed up to/back from the satellite has to travel and all the associated bandwidth. Much more expensive (most likely) are "landing rights" for each country where you want to provide service - each nation controls rights to the airwaves over their territory, and you will need to license it - and that ain't cheap (and in many countries, especially in the developing world they will shake you down for a "joint venture" or foreign investment in their country to get the licenses). Oh, and of course there is (presumably) a need to manufacture satellite data terminals and subsidize them enough so that the people in these countries can afford them...

And they want to provide free service, or at least service affordable in developing countries? Are the underpants gnomes their business case consultants?

I really do love the idea here but it sounds like yet another exercise in wishful thinking where nobody with any real knowledge of the satellite industry bothered to think it through. Not a good use of time or money.

kinda like buying the brooklyn bridge (1)

ItsLenny (1132387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155248)

Hope they figure out all the other expenses before the actually spend the money to buy the satellite. Tie in to existing internet infrastructure... providing a method for the people to connect to it... price to move the satellite.. is it possible to move it if they don't get those pieces in place first they'll wind up owning a big hunk of metal floating in space that they can't ever afford to use. Honestly, this seems like the most likely out come to me (assuming they can raise enough money to buy the satellite).

I'll pay (1, Interesting)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155282)

Base your headquarters in some country that would be happy to have you and doesn't have the wests draconian Copyright laws, guarantee never to release my traffic records and to enforce Net Neutrality, and I'll pay you for this service. I'll pay more than I'm paying now. Then you can use that money to buy more satellites and set them up in impoverished countries all over the world. I'd happily pay for 3rd world to have internet access for free if it kept my internet access private.

Well intentioned, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35155486)

The ongoing cost of operating a satellite, assuming it is even suitable for what he wants, is in the ground station equipment and staff.

His _only_ prayer would be to get a university to adopt this as a project, and staff it with volunteers or something. When I was a student at CU Boulder in the late 80s and early 90s, there was some old science satellite that the university ran operations for. Heck if I can remember the name, but you need a large institution to eat the ongoing costs to make this even vaguely viable.

Necron69

OLPC model (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155500)

Here's the plan: Make a splash with an audacious goal that highlights a massive, underserved market. Gather celebrity sign ons and generally woot-woot around the mediaverse for a while. Encounter inevitable delays. Watch market players notice your efforts, do the math (uh, 5 billion potential customers? wait, really?) and move in ahead of you.

I credit One Laptop Per Child not with distributing several hundred thousand laptops, which is a moderately nice thing to do, but kicking industry in the ass to invent the netbook, which was huge in increasing access to hardware. Remember when a 3lbs computer could not be had for less than $2000? That was, like, 2008.

Remember when you couldn't get Internet sat uplink for less than $500 a month? Oh yeah, that's right now.

Progression built on the things that came before (2)

slapout (93640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35155526)

There's a reason our society has progressed to the point of having internet access almost everywhere -- it has been built on all the things that came before it. We developed clean drinking water systems, sanitation, roads, markets, all of which lead us to a point where we not only had the tech to have internet everywhere -- but also the time to use it since we don't have to worry about all the other things.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...