Sharing information with your loved ones is vital for you. That’s how you enjoy life twice as much: a picture on Instagram, a WhatsApp text to say good morning, checking your email. But today, we still find places where neither data nor Wi-Fi are at hand.
Well, in three or four years’ time, the utopia of a 24/7, anywhere connection will become a reality: thanks to a powerful network of satellites, many of them launched by Europe, users will enjoy full coverage all over the planet. Yes, also in deserts and on mountain tops.
This could be the mundane, trivial side of a historic episode with deeper humanitarian implications. Third world countries will have access to the Internet and the so-called digital divide between Europe and other Western countries and the rest of the world will disappear. Offshore rescues in the Mediterranean and other seas will be easier, as any ship will be swiftly located in case of emergency. Climbers in the Everest or the Alps will be easily tracked, no matter the altitude or the adverse weather conditions. All of this thanks to satellites.
But how are these extra-terrestrial devices going to make it possible? Constellations of satellites orbit in particular the Earth at an altitude of about 1,000 km, which is considered a low Earth orbit. Indeed, their main function is to send and receive data via their built-in antennae. Imagine a network of flying, human-controlled antennas spinning around our planet. Imagine taking one of those satellite dishes from the rooftops of a building, considerably reducing it in size and weight, send it above the Earth to make it spin around it. Repeat several times and… your satellite dishes will become a satellite network. Welcome to the future!