A startup wants to provide high-speed internet on the Moon by 2024

The company will also provide asteroid detection data for planetary defense.
Chris Young
Satellites orbiting the moon. Nzoka John/iStock

A startup called Aquarian Space announced that it just received $650,000 in seed funding to work on the development of a broadband internet connection that would link the Earth, Moon, and maybe even Mars.

The company announced on Thursday, March 17, that it had received funding from Draper Associates. The company aims to deploy its first lunar system as soon as 2024, according to a report from Space.

"We can do better"

On its website, Aquarian Space says that though humans spend billions to launch space missions for scientific purposes, "limited communication abilities in interplanetary space," make it so that "it is only possible to transfer a fraction of that vital scientific data we collect from existing satellites. We can do better than this."

Aquarian aims to create a system called Solnet using high-speed delivery satellite networks with speeds of 100 megabits per second. The startup has released little in the way of specifications, but it said it is carrying out technical reviews with U.S. partners, some of which are from NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. CLPS was started by NASA to gain private sector support in building lunar machines for its upcoming Artemis missions to the Moon.

"In 2021 there were 13 landers, orbiters, and rovers on and around the moon," Kelly Larson, CEO of Aquarian Space, said in a 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" she added.  

Strong competition for space communications networks

Of course, Aquarian isn't the only company building communications infrastructure for space. SpaceX has recently garnered public praise for its use of its Starlink internet satellites to help people on the ground remain connected in Ukraine amid Russia's ongoing invasion of the country. That same network of satellites will soon be tested for space communication by the all-civilian Polaris Dawn mission, scheduled for later this year.

NASA, however, has also warned that the Starlink mega constellation has the potential to make it harder for astronomers to detect a potentially catastrophic asteroid on a collision course with Earth. By contrast, Aquarian Space says on its website that its satellites will provide planetary defense data including asteroid detection as well as Space Situation Awareness (SSA) for lunar defense.

Aquarian Space will have to work hard to differentiate itself from Starlink and SpaceX, NASA's biggest partner in recent years. Helping prevent the destruction of civilization on Earth is a good way to start.

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