Startup Aquarian Space aims to deliver high-speed internet at the moon (and maybe Mars)

Startup Aquarian Space hopes to connect lunar and Earth science via high-speed Internet.
Startup Aquarian Space hopes to connect lunar and Earth science via high-speed Internet. (Image credit: Jeremy Horner via Getty images)

An early-stage space internet project just received $650,000 in seed funding to work on development and technical reviews to connect the Earth, moon and potentially Mars with broadband.

Aquarian Space announced the funding from Draper Associates Thursday (March 17) as a step along its eventual goal to bringing high-speed internet between the Earth, the moon and Mars in future years, fast enough to stream 4K video. The company aims to deploy its first lunar communications system by 2024.

The startup's vision is to create what it calls Solnet, built on "commercial high data rate, high-speed delivery satellite networks" with speeds of 100 megabits per second, Aquarian said in a statement. (That's far faster than average Internet speeds Americans enjoy, with SlashGear recently reporting a typical U.S. resident surfs at less than 30.)

"In 2021 there were 13 landers, orbiters and rovers on and around the moon," Kelly Larson, CEO of Aquarian Space, said in the statement. "By 2030, we will have around 200, creating a multibillion dollar lunar economy. But this can’t happen without solid, reliable Earth-to-moon communications."

Artist's impression of a CLPS mission on the moon.

Artist's impression of a of a robotic lander on the moon. (Image credit: NASA)

Aquarian Space is performing technical reviews with several companies participating in NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, the company said, along with other companies in the United States and internationally targeting moon missions.

CLPS will see several payloads, landers and other scientific equipment alight on the moon later in the 2020s in support of NASA's Artemis program, which aims to put humans on the moon sometime this decade. 

Aquarian's hope is to bring "end-to-end data and communication services by 2024" with the various companies it is interacting with, although specifics were not released beyond saying that customers will not need to change their design to accommodate Aquarian's technology.

Aquarian eventually plans to launch a space-based relay data service called Solnet, but has released few technical details so far such as what sorts of satellites it intends to use, or how it will carry these satellites to space.

Besides high-speed Internet, Aquarian says it plans to include space situation awareness for aspects including looking at space debris, tracking space weather and providing scientific information from the moon and from Mars.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: