Alumni of SpaceX, NASA and Stanford University have formed a company that they say is on the cusp of building an internet-style service in space.
Headquartered in California, the firm — Audacy — is on a mission to provide the first commercial space-based data relay system and has claimed the network should be fully operational by 2020. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized a crucial license to the firm earlier this month.
The network will use two ground stations in San Francisco and Singapore to communicate with three linked Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites that are scheduled to launch in 2019. MEO satellites are sited further away from Earth and so far have typically been used for GPS services.
At present, most commercial satellites sit in a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and connect directly with one tower situated on the ground, only carrying information for one client at a time.
Audacy CEO Ralph Ewig told CNBC on Wednesday that the current commercial set up relies on "line of sight" and the window for contact can be reduced to 10 to 15 minutes for each pass.
Ewig said his plan is to network three satellites further away from Earth that the LEO satellites will communicate "up" to. This, in turn, will allow contact and data transfer to be maintained with Earth at all times.