Canada’s biggest satellite operator, Telesat, has signed agreements with Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture and Alphabet’s Loon aerial telecommunications venture to support its future global broadband satellite constellation.
Blue Origin has agreed to provide multiple launches on its yet-to-be-built New Glenn rocket to get Telesat’s spacecraft into low Earth orbit, or LEO. Loon, meanwhile, will furnish a cloud-based data delivery platform that’s based on the system it currently uses to deliver mobile services via a fleet of high-altitude balloons.
Today’s announcements raise Telesat’s profile in a market battle that also involves California-based SpaceX and the international OneWeb consortium.
Two of Google’s best-known flights of fancy, Project Loon and Project Wing, are being hatched from their X incubator to become independent businesses under the wing of Alphabet, Google’s holding company.
Loon will work with mobile network operators globally to bring internet access to a market of billions of people currently without high-speed connections.
But today’s rapid pace of innovation and competition is increasing the pressure to turn blue-sky ideas into marketable products and services. No company, not even Alphabet, can afford to bet on every hunch. So X’s aim is to systematize the process of picking winning technologies.
“We are trying to be the card counters of innovation, not the gamblers of innovation,” Teller said.
Drones, satellites and rocket planes are all well and good for high-flying missions, but sometimes the best craft for the job is a balloon.
Google’s Project Loon, for example, is enlisting machine learning to pilot its experimental data-beaming balloons through the stratosphere. And other ventures are using high-altitude balloon platforms to conduct missions traditionally associated with suborbital rocket launches.