Satellite-industry professional Greg Wyler has left Google to team up with nerd-entrepreneur-extraordinaire Elon Musk and develop a squadron of satellites that could beam WiFi just about anywhere, and eventually everywhere, on Earth.
The Wall Street Journal says the two are working together to put 700 satellites in orbit, each of which would weigh about half as much and cost millions less than the units used by communications companies now. Iridium Communications Inc. currently operates the biggest satellite fleet in the sky with about 70.
The project is being spearheaded by Wyler's company WorldVu Satellites Ltd. but the partnership opportunity with Musk's SpaceX outfit is obvious; his Falcon 9 rockets would pretty much be the easiest way to get 700 flying saucers into orbit in the foreseeable future.
Musk may also hoping to get in on the manufacturing end of these small satellites, drawing on his knowledge and experience streamlining the rocket-construction business with SpaceX.
Obviously space-vehicle creation is a complex, expensive, and lengthy process. Estimates to build this WiFi satellite fleets are getting thrown around at "over $1 billion," even if Musk and Wyler can get the cost of their satellites down to around $1 million a piece as they're aiming.
But they'll have plenty of potential investors to appeal to for capital; I'm sure you can think of a few mega-money corporations that could profit significantly from world-ubiquitous internet access.
I just like the idea of not having to ask for the WiFi password every time I go into a new coffee shop. Then again, satellite-driven GPS doesn't work indoors... so we'll have to wait and see how they're planning to send signal from space through walls and ceilings.