Oneman's bankrupt satellite company is another man's opportunity to spread freeInternet across the world. That's the hope of Kosta Grammatis, CEO and founderof ahumanright.org, who sees having an Internet connection as a basic necessity— in fact, a human right — for every global citizen.
Grammatisis raising $150,000 to create a business plan for buyinga communications satellite and moving it to a new orbital slot to providefree Internet service to developing countries. He has his sights set on theTerreStar-1 satellite: a spacecraft the size of a school bus that launched in2009 and is owned by a company that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protectionin October.
Theidea of making free Internet available to all may sound like a pipe dream, butGrammatis has the right combination of technical background and ambition forthe job. His resume includes working as an engineer for private spaceflightcompany SpaceX,as well as creating a bionic eye camera to transform a one-eyed filmmaker into"Eyeborg."
Grammatisand his team plan to pay the bills by allowing telecommunications companies tobuy and resell high-speed bandwidth, even as they provide a slower connectionspeed for free to everyone. They have also begun to develop an open-source,low-cost modem that could provide developing countries with their link to thesatellite and the rest of the world.
Toachieve this dream, ahumanright.org launched a "Buy This Satellite"initiative on a new website.
SPACE.com: What are thebasic goals of ahumanright.org?
Grammatis:ahumanright is charged with promoting Internet access as a human right. The organization also promotes endeavors that can ensure everyone has achance to get online. We try to do this in three different ways:
- Connect with businesses and governments and discuss the creation of a "free" segment to their networks
- We have been envisioning our own free network with our friends at NASA and other industry experts
- We attempt to buy and re-purpose underutilized infrastructure to bring free Internet to the people
SPACE.com: How muchgeographical coverage can TerreStar-1provide in terms of Internet? Could it provide service to all of Africa?
Grammatis:Currently it can cover all of America, southern Canada and northern Mexico. Not entirely Africa.
SPACE.com: Whatconsiderations are going into the choice of where to park the satellite? Howwill you weigh public or donor opinions?
Grammatis:That is a very complicated question that has no simple answer.
SPACE.com: How much do youenvision the open-source, low-cost modem might cost?
Grammatis:We're aiming for less than $100, but that's dependent on a lot offactors.
SPACE.com: Do you have anybusiness partners or larger-scale funders in mind?
Grammatis:Plenty. Google comes to mind first, RichardBranson second. People and organizations who like taking big risks anddoing things that have a lot of positive impact.
SPACE.com: Are there anypossible plans to repeat this process for other satellites, if this ultimatelyproves successful?
Grammatis:Already in the works! We've got another collaboration coming together thatshould be announced soon if things go as planned.
Tocontribute to "Buy This Satellite's" goal of raising $150,000, go here.
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