Tags: satellite | launches | Musk | Wyler

Elon Musk, Greg Wyler Considering Satellite Launches

By    |   Saturday, 08 Nov 2014 03:13 PM

Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk may be moving on from electric cars and inexpensive rockets to focus on small satellites that can easily deliver worldwide Internet access.

According to sources familiar with Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur is working with former Google executive and satellite veteran Greg Wyler, owner of the new company WorldVu Satellites, reports The Wall Street Journal, and have discussed the launch of about 700 satellites.

The satellites will each weigh in at less than 250 pounds, which is only about half of the size of the communications satellites now being used. However, the fleet would be 10 times bigger than the one managed by Iridium Communications Inc., which now has the largest satellite fleet in the world.

Industry officials say the Musk-Wyler project could cost more than $1 billion, and the Journal's sources warned that Musk's participation is not yet set in stone. However, they said the two are considering building a factory to make the satellites and have been in discussions with state officials in Florida and Colorado.

WorldVu is also seeking another satellite industry partner in addition to Musk, the sources said.

Musk's Space Exploration Technologies Corp., known as SpaceX, would likely launch the satellites if the project goes through. The company's Falcon 9 rockets have been launched a dozen times, with more than four dozen launches planned through 2018, and in September, SpaceX was awarded a $2.6 billion NASA contract to test and fly crafts to take astronauts into space.

However, WorldVu would still need to clear the use of the spectrum needed to provide Internet service, and if the project is delayed too long, the spectrum could be lost, the Journal reports.

Wyler had been associated with O3b Networks, a previous Internet startup, faced technical problems with its first satellites, but now serves areas with eight satellites and plans to launch four more. Although Wyler is no longer with O3b, he remains a major shareholder.

Until September, Wyler had been with Google for about a year to lead the search giant's own $1 billion satellite Internet efforts, but left to join forces with Musk. When he left, Wyler also took the rights to radio spectrum he owned and formed WorldVu.

Sources told The Wall Street Journal that Wyler left Google because he was not sure the company had the manufacturing expertise needed to launch the extensive satellite venture.

The partnership between Wyler and Musk could be highly beneficial to both. WorldVu needs several satellites to spread its reach, and could be an anchor customer for a low-cost satellite maker, and Musk made it less expensive to launch rockets.

Sources said WorldVu hopes to make its smaller satellites for under $1 million each, while the smallest communications satellites now available weigh just under 500 pounds and cost several million dollars each.

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Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk may be moving on from electric cars and inexpensive rockets to focus on small satellites that can easily deliver worldwide Internet access. According to sources familiar with Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur is working with former Google...
satellite, launches, Musk, Wyler
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2014-13-08
Saturday, 08 Nov 2014 03:13 PM
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