Hello and welcome to the blog.
When I began working on today’s article, my first thought was that maybe I won’t find a lot of recent info to work with. I had felt deep down that my idea was maybe just a little too early for the world to adopt. Or, choose to, for that matter.
And so I began to dig. I was trying to find out how we might get web hosting into outer space, and what the ramifications were. Physics, the stars and what we can learn about our place among the cosmos are a hobby of mine. And with a long and storied career in web hosting I feel now that it must have been a matter of time before I considered how I might combine the two.
The first thing I learned was just how little I knew.
There are all kinds of companies working on this now. Amazon announced in late 2018 of their plans to store data on satellites, though their model relies heavily on ground stations that receive the data for users. OrbitsEdge is another outfit that is planning to launch a server rack into space as well. Even Microsoft are getting in on the race, which we found out roughly a year ago.
If we go back nearly 2 decades, we’ll see the precursor to orbital data centers. Orbital internet, you could say. For those in the most remote regions of North America and elsewhere, satellite internet providers offered a means to connect that – although slow – offered a connection to the larger world. To make full use of many such services, you’d download via satellite dish just like folk do for television. To send information across the internet required the use of your telephone line.
But I think it goes back further yet.
In 1955 the World Data Center was established as a means for global entities to archive and share information with participating nations. While this wasn’t an in-orbit answer to information, it was a critical first step in the global coordination effort. The WDC Satellite Information branch specifically managed data relating to satellite and rocket launches, and while no longer current is still sharing its mountains of data to those who might use it the world-over toward future space exploration, development and missions.
Where will the future take us?
I’m positive that we’ll see more and more data centers move to LEO(low Earth orbit) in the not-so-distant future. Maybe by the time we put boots on the Moon, we could see such a data center take shape. Starlink by SpaceX is proving that data transfer from LEO is possible and is comparable already to DSL in terms of ping and data rates.
Technology will get us there. As a species we’re capable of so much, and this is just the next big thing.