It's never been a better time to be a budding third-world internet entrepreneur: Google's trying to use balloons to bring you online, Facebook wants to use drones to upload your selfies, and now a third big Silicon Valley name is lending a helping hand. According to a WSJ report, Elon Musk is planning to launch a 700-satellite constellation to bring the whole world online.
Musk is said to be working with Greg Wyler, a former Google exec and current owner of WorldVu Satellites. They want to use a giant constellation of small, cheap satellites to blanket the globe with internet coverage, hopefully making space-based internet reliable and somewhat affordable.
The key breakthrough, if this plan ever comes to fruition (the Journal says it's still in the planning stage), would be managing to manufacture smaller and cheaper communications satellites than what exist today. Getting the weight of each one down to under 113kg, whilst still costing less than $US1 million, should make the whole thing viable.
There's one obvious benefit to Musk taking on this project, though: he already owns SpaceX, a company with a proven record of launching stuff into orbit fairly cheaply. That, combined with his track record of seeing through fairly ambitious projects successfully should hopefully give him a decent shot at this being more than just a vanity project. [WSJ]