Tag Archives: SpaceX

What if Everyone on Earth Had Super Fast Internet for $1?

Only about half the world has internet access. Even rural America lags behind in broadband penetration.

But what if everyone on earth had incredibly fast internet for $1 a month?

A fascinating company called Akash Systems just might pull that off. It is delivering internet 100 times more cheaply than its competitors.

Given that Starlink is charging $99/month for its high speed satellite internet, Akash may one day be able to do it for as little as a dollar.

“This is sort of where the internet was in, I would say, ’98, ’99.”

Felix Ejeckam

The key is a new type of transistor called Gallium Nitride (GaN)-on-Diamond. The founder of Akash, Felix Ejeckam, invented it.

The hottest part of a transistor is put within nanometers of a synthetic diamond. Synthetic diamonds conduct heat better than any other material.

This means that the transistor produces way less heat. Anyone who’s had a laptop on their lap knows it can get hot.

Electronics getting hot cause all sorts of problems, especially in space.

Excess heat means problems with wireless communication. It also requires large heat sinks to dissipate the heat.

This makes the satellite bulkier and more expensive.

Today, Akash focuses on building transmitters for other satellite makers. In the future, they plan to launch their own satellites and internet service.

I can’t wait to sign up and cut my bill down to nothing!

In an interview with the Ejeckam, I was fascinated to hear that he dreamed up this idea 17 years ago. It shows the persistence needed to make a dream real.

“The limits of your imagination today define the limits of space tomorrow.”

Felix Ejeckam

More on tech:

Robot Hands, Vertical Farms, and the Future of Food

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

Inside a Startup Accelerator Demo Day

Photo: “Antares Rocket Launch” by NASA Goddard Photo and Video is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Liftoff: How Elon Musk Built SpaceX

At 1310 East Grand Avenue in El Segundo, just south of Los Angeles, sits a large white building. In 2002, it housed only about a dozen people. There wasn’t even a receptionist.

Deep in this building was a small group of cubicles, staffed by about a dozen men. This tiny group had an audacious goal: sending the first humans to Mars.

Their leader was a young internet entrepreneur named Elon Musk. He had just made $180 million from the sale of PayPal. Many men in his position would buy an island and relax, or perhaps begin a career in philanthrophy. But Elon toiled away in this nondescript warehouse instead, building the future.

This is the subject of an outstanding new book I just finished called Liftoff: Elon Musk and the Desperate Early Days That Launched SpaceX.

From this tiny team, Musk built SpaceX, which now does two thirds of all commercial satellite launches in the world and owns the most powerful rocket on earth, the Falcon Heavy. That small group of employees has mushroomed to nearly 10,000.

To go so far so fast, Musk needed the best people in the business, and he focused like a laser on finding them. One engineer’s wife got a job at Google in the Bay Area, which meant he couldn’t accept Musk’s offer to work at SpaceX. Undeterred, Musk called the CEO of Google and got the engineer’s wife a transfer to Los Angeles. Sure enough, he got the engineer he wanted.

Musk went so far as to personally interview the first 3000 people SpaceX hired. Musk paid less and his company was unproven, but he excelled at inspiring people to join him to revolutionize space travel.

Even with Musk’s drive and a superb team, SpaceX faced many struggles. By 2008, they had three failed flights and barely a month’s worth of cash left. Even Elon’s considerable fortune had run dry supporting both SpaceX and Tesla. But Musk and his team stayed focused and successfully launched a rocket into orbit in the nick of time. This achievement won them a NASA contract that kept the company alive.

SpaceX questioned everything about how business is normally done in aerospace. Most companies buy parts from established suppliers, but SpaceX built almost everything itself, substantially lowering its costs. For the parts it did buy elsewhere, SpaceX ignored common practice as well. Instead of paying in 30 days, SpaceX paid in as little as 24 hours. This got their orders prioritized, which helped them move faster than other rocket companies.

Today, only one other private company, Rocket Lab, has reached orbit. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, despite all his money, has never reached orbit. Indeed, SpaceX is so dominant that customers sometimes spread around a few of their orders, just to make sure its competitors don’t all go out of business.

If I had seen Musk in that empty warehouse twenty years ago, I would never have believed what SpaceX would become. But Musk saw it, and stopped at nothing to get there.

When the first man steps on Mars, will it be Musk?

Dig into these posts for more on Elon Musk and space:

Photo: “SpaceX Dragon Propulsive Descent Landing Test” by NASAKennedy is marked with CC PDM 1.0

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