Commercial Internet in space might sound crazy but it might just be possible.
On April 29, 2018, 17:11:22 (UTC) a tweet by Solstar router using Wi-Fi network possibly marked the beginning of a Space Wi-Fi Era. Solstar was being carried by Blue Origin’s rocket New Shepard. At the rocket’s highest altitude of 74 miles above Earth, Solstar sent this tweet using the Wi-Fi network:
The Solstar demonstration made a huge impact in the efforts to bring better Internet connectivity in space. This could mean traditional radio frequency technology of the 1960s can be replaced.
What does Soltar do?
According to their own website, their Mission statement states :-
“Solstar develops proprietary technologies and payload & space communicator products, providing commercial internet/communications services to astronauts and machines in space…”
In simpler terms Solstar provides commercial Internet for Astronauts and various machines in space.
Solstar is also developing a communicator for the International Space Station and another for the small satellite market- spacenews.com
What more can be done in future?
Researchers could send and receive important images, datasets, reports grounding stations much faster than compared to traditional methods. Additionally, various space agencies might just use their services to access the Internet which might be cheaper than building a complete network on its own. Data will travel from payloads equipped with Solstar antennas using commercial communications satellites.
Although, it might be too early to comment one thing is for sure. We will need better Internet connectivity in space. Better Internet will help in advancing space research by relaying important information faster. It might be achieved by Solstar or some other company.