Elon Musk's SpaceX aims to connect all parts of the globe by beaming high-speed Internet from space, reaching even remote areas.
A web of satellites would wrap the Earth in low orbit, providing Internet access to all areas across the globe. If this ambitious project pulls through, beaming Internet from space would be cheaper and more efficient than providing Internet access through existing satellites.
SpaceX is currently a rocket company, but this project could turn it into a large high-speed Internet provider that would help billions of people get online for the first time.
According to a new report from the Washington Post, SpaceX has asked the U.S. federal government for permission to start testing on this project. This is an important step forward in this endeavor of beaming Internet service from space, but there's still a long way to go.
The proposal involves launching 4,000 "small and cheap" satellites to beam high-speed Internet to all parts of the Earth, including remote areas. Musk believes this effort "would be like rebuilding the Internet in space."
As a reminder, Musk first detailed such plans earlier this year at a SpaceX event in Seattle, back in January. The constellation of 4,000 satellites would be deployed from SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, orbiting Earth and connecting to three West Coast ground stations.
Various tests are necessary to determine whether the antenna technology is indeed capable of beaming high-speed Internet from space to devices on the ground. SpaceX plans to start testing in 2016 and potentially make the service publicly available within the next five years. SpaceX apparently made the filing to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) late last month.
The Washington Post further notes that Google and Fidelity poured $1 billion in funding into SpaceX, and part of that investment is destined for the ambitious Internet project.
SpaceX is not the only company to consider such goals, but it could be more successful than others. Facebook, for instance, lately dropped its own plans of building a satellite to provide Internet across the globe. Other companies had similar plans as well, but they all tanked.
One big player who's still in the game, meanwhile, is Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group. Branson is also on the board of directors at OneWeb, which is developing a constellation of satellites that could deliver Internet from space.