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.
NASA is now asking the People of the World to take the cutting edge of toilets (forgive the phrase) one step further with their “Lunar Loo Challenge”, which launched last week. In doing so, NASA have offered a total of $35,000 in prize money for designs for a toilet that can work both in the microgravity of space as well as the low, but not insignificant, gravity of the lunar surface (which I’m sure you all know to be about a sixth of that on Earth).
At 1522 EDT on 30 May 2020, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in their Dragon capsule blasted off from Cape Canaveral and into low Earth orbit, propelled by the mighty Falcon-9 rocket. This was the first time a private company had sent astronauts to the International Space Station, and the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011 that anyone had travelled into space from US soil.
Patenting space technologies presents some complications that are not so often encountered in more terrestrial areas of technology.Patents for a system or a method that would be implemented in space can end up being of limited use when it comes to enforcement. The reason for this is that patents confer national rights.