Author Topic: Bill Gates backs $1 billion plan to cover earth in video surveillance satellites  (Read 98 times)

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Offline John Albert

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...aaand he's back to being a supervillain again.

Bill Gates backs $1bn plan to cover earth in video surveillance satellites

By  Matthew Field | 19 APRIL 2018 - 11:21AM

Bill Gates has invested in the satellite start-up. Photo credit: AFP

A satellite company planning to launch a $1bn (£700m) network of satellites to provide "live and unfiltered" coverage of the Earth has been backed by former Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates and Japanese tech giant Softbank.

The tech leaders are backing EarthNow, which plans to launch 500 satellites to cover Earth's atmosphere in video surveillance and provide live video feedback with only one second of delay.

The Washington-based satellite company has the backing of aerospace giant Airbus as well as billionaire Gates and Softbank, the Japanese conglomerate that has invested billions in tech companies from Uber to chipmaker Arm.

EarthNow founder Russel Hannigan said: "Our objective is simple; we want to connect you visually with Earth in real-time."

Hannigan told the Wall Street Journal the price of the project could run to $1bn, although the companies did not disclose the value of the investment. Hannigan said the first funding would cover the planning stage of the project.

Softbank has invested heavily in space and satellite companies under enigmatic chief executive Masayoshi Son. t has previously invested in satellite start-up OneWeb for $1bn, whose founder Greg Wyler added his backing to the start-up.

Some of the applications will include services for government and commercial customers, as well as tracking illegal fishing, watching weather systems or tracking natural migrations. EarthNow said it would also enable live feed of the earth to be viewable from a smartphone or tablet.

"We believe the ability to see and understand the Earth live and unfiltered will help all of us better appreciate and ultimately care for our one and only home," Hannigan said.

EarthNow is just the latest start-up to benefit from a wave of funding in space technologies. In 2017, there were 67 equity fundings in space start-ups to the tune of $2.9bn. Most recently, US rocket company SpaceX is reportedly raising $500m from investors.

Online 2397

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What's being done to keep this from turning into/creating space junk?

I don't buy the "this will change people's attitudes" argument. Climate modeling and environmental monitoring is something we do need. Commercialization of space, eh, I'd rather we shift back to having more public ownership, but this time not for military reasons. I don't see profit being necessary for space exploration, other than because profit is so disruptive to politics on Earth that we can't have reliable funding and planning in public institutions, or can't be reliably free and democratic enough to avoid public institutions being abused for propaganda and corporate welfare.

That article is a year and a half old. Here is a slightly more recent one.

One point that's sort of made that I can agree with, is that it's much better to view Earth through these feeds than to waste tons of fuel on shipping tourists into orbit.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2019, 06:31:47 AM by 2397 »

Offline John Albert

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Thanks for that!

It's the privatization of SATINT, making military-grade espionage commercially available to private individuals and companies. That's scary.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2019, 10:13:30 AM by John Albert »

Offline daniel1948

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The surface area of the Earth is about 197 million square miles. With 500 satellites covering the entire Earth without overlap, each one covers about 394 thousand square miles. But you can't do that with geostationary satellites. They'll have to be in LEO, so if they want to have one-second delay (effectively constant) full Earth coverage, each one will probably have to cover half a million to a million square miles.

The thing about spy satellites is that somebody has to decide what to zoom in on. But if they give anybody that kind of control, then the system loses full coverage. So you're not even going to get Google Earth quality views if you want full Earth coverage with a one-second delay. The field of view from each satellite is just too wide.

They would be able to monitor weather, maybe with better resolution than present-day weather satellites, because they'll be closer and there will be more of them. And on the down side, space junk. Add these to SpaceX's internet-for-everybody satellites, and by the time we're ready to go to Mars there won't be an open path through the space junk for anybody to get through. (Which, BTW, is my solution to the Fermi Paradox: By the time any civilization has the technology for inter-planetary, let alone interstellar, travel, they've surrounded their planet with so much space junk that they're trapped and cannot get out.)
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Offline stands2reason

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Put on your aluminum foil hats.

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