In a private event captured on amateur video (embedded below), space pioneer Elon Musk has outlined his next task: space internet.
Of course, this makes sense - if you are going to start pushing travelers into space, there must be some infrastructure for them to post about their adventures to social media back down on earth. The ability to deliver the Web in space is also a vital component of future commercial space tourism, as there would need to be some familiar communications infrastructure to manage the growth in the industry.
However, it's more about powering the Internet back on Earth and not just about ensuring communications infrastructure in space. In fact, the focus is to ensure that terrestrial internet can be the fastest possible, while also covering the largest area possible via high-orbit satellite.
On stage at the event, Musk said:
In the long-term it will be about rebuilding the Internet in space. The goal will be to have a majority of long-distance Internet traffic go over this network, and 10% of consumer and business traffic. 90% of people's local access will still come from fiber, but we'll do about ten percent of business to consumer direct, and then more than half of the long distance traffic.
The focus is going to be on creating a global communication system. This is quite an ambitious effort. In the long term, it will be like rebuilding the Internet, in space.
One of the key advantages to a "space internet" is that speeds in a vaccuum can actually be faster than fiber, Musk claims.
There are very clear applications for speedier internet on the ground, as speeds generally increase conversions and make mobile applications more appealing for completing transactions and delivering all sorts of data-hungry travel applications to consumers. Other implications include the increased speeds necessary for more self-propelled transportation and other connected areas heavily pursued by the travel industry.
The event was part of an announcement of a SpaceX office in Seattle that will focus exclusively on crafts headed to Mars. The full video is below, and a transcript was kindly created by the Seattle tech blog Geekwire. Musk also spoke with Bloomberg about the service here.
No name yet for the space internet startup, which joins other high-profile attempts to distribute internet at a global scale from tech giants such as Facebook and Google.
NB: Universe abstract courtesy Shutterstock.