Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nonprofit Wants to Buy the World's Biggest Communications Satellite

There's a huge satellite for sale and the nonprofit group A Human Right wants to buy it to provide internet access to the unconnected.

The TerreStar-1 satellite is the largest commercial communications satellite ever built—it's roughly the size of a school bus. It was launched by the TerreStar Corporation in 2009 to great fanfare. At the time, Jean-Yves Le Gall, the CEO of Arianespace, the company that provided the actual launching services, said TerreStar-1 would "revolutionize telecommunications over North America" by providing phone and laptop users with a fast, universal voice and data connection.

But the TerreStar Corporation recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and it's selling off the TerreStar-1. Seeing an opportunity, A Human Right has started a campaign, Buy This Satellite, to raise $150,000 for the first phase of a three-phase plan to buy the satellite, move it over a country that needs internet access (Papua New Guinea, for example), and then connect it with people on the ground via low-cost modems.

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