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 (opens in new tab) 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."
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 (opens in new tab) 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.