It was in the 20th century when two superpowers competed for the title of supremacy in the art of spaceflight. The Soviet Union and the United States embroiled into a cold war, one that lurked dangerously close to a major catastrophe. The aim of the space race was to launch artificial satellites, and it began on August 2nd 1955. On this day the Soviet Union announced their plans to launch a satellite, in response to the statement made by the US of the same intentions, just four days previously. However it was not until October the 4th 1957, when the USSR launched the Sputnik 1,effectively beating the US in the race. The sputnik 1 was a huge development technologically, and it proved extremely useful in space research. The USSR went one step further and sent the first human in space, Yuri Gagarin, on April the 12th 1961. The space race itself did not peak until the US on the 20th of July 1969, sent humans to the moon with the Apollo 11. After this mammoth achievement, the space race eventually declined.
However in the 21st century, Musk’s SpaceX programme seems to be igniting a space race Elon Musk has toyed with the idea of “internet satellite”, using 4,425 satellites in a non-geostationary orbit. The satellite network would deliver data directly to individual devices or smaller base stations. The idea itself is not new, with Motorola having attempted a similar programme, but it ended in misery due to lack of investment. Despite this, there is now more interest in the technology, and there is a lot more potential - an era of 5G technologies could most likely bolstered by a global satellite network. Companies such as OneWeb and Boeing have suggested a plan with a “constellation” of satellites.
The risks of such a project have the same magnitude as the benefits of it. The cost has been estimated a staggering 6 billion dollars at the very least, should the network have a larger scale the cost will inflate further. At the moment funding and regulations are the largest obstacles, the project could very well bankrupt the companies, and FCC regulations could stop it before it can even start. Elon Musk himself has been accused of “cuddling” up to Trump’s administration, but is it such a wrong act to have assistance from the White House in such a large matter? Whilst the space race for satellite internets is near, another larger mission looms. A manned mission to Mars, a subject that was the dreams of our ancestors. One thing is for sure that this space race will change the technologies that we use.