Transmitting solar energy generated in space back to Earth has long been the subject of science fiction, first appearing in Isaac Asimov’s 1941 short story, Reason, where solar energy is converted to microwaves by a space station, and beamed back to nearby planets.
The era of satellite based broadband has now launched in the UK, with Starlink, another project of the Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk, being granted a license by Ofcom to begin a limited trial. And while Starlink may be the first, they certainly won’t be the last. A cluster of other companies have launched in this sector, each with the aim of using a constellation of (read “awful lot of”) networked satellites to provide global broadband coverage. Notable competitors include One Web, which is back to launching satellites after being rescued from bankruptcy last year by the UK government and Indian conglomerate Bharti Global, and Amazon’s Kupier Systems, to name but a few. The EU have also announced plans for their own system, following the Galileo global positioning system.