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Elon Musk's Latest Moon-Shot: Space Internet

Internet services for Mars and the poors on planet Earth!

Asa Mathat / All Things Digital

Inventor and entrepreneur Elon Musk doesn’t let a little thing like a rocket crash dampen his space ambitions.

At an event on Friday to commemorate the opening of SpaceX’s offices in Seattle, Musk talked about his latest idea — launching a network of communications satellites to orbit the earth and deliver high-speed Internet services to the billions of people with limited Web access.

“Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek.

These satellites, traveling in a relatively low earth orbit of 750 miles, would be capable of delivering Internet speeds to rival terrestrial cable on land — at least, in theory. The technology would reach poorer parts of the planet where people lack Web access.

A SpaceX representative was not reachable for further comment.

Of course, Musk also sees this technology as establishing a communications link between earth and Mars, a planet he hopes to one day colonize. That’s part of the motivation behind SpaceX, whose Dragon capsules have successfully resupplied the International Space Station. Though an effort to retrieve one of the Falcon boosters for re-use by landing it on a barge didn’t quite go as planned.

Musk isn’t the first to look to the skies to deliver Internet access. Google began floating trial balloons (literally) in June 2013, by setting aloft solar-powered balloons to deliver the web to poor, remote regions of the planet.

Project Loon director Mike Cassidy told Slate he hopes to attract the users in rural South America and Southern Africa by 2016. If you need a refresher course on the project, check out the video below:

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