Almost every day, headline-hogger Elon Musk manages to fill our screens with news that excites, sickens, surprises, revolts, frightens, amuses, angers, etc. Name any particular emotion, and Musk evokes a daily dose of it, and the opposite. On this particular day, we offer up a fact a lot of people know. But how many have thought through the ramifications of this fact about his satellites? I bet they’re not going to thrill you.
All satellites are allocated a trajectory, much in the same way that commercial airliners are allocated flight paths. The parameters for these trajectories are altitude and speed. Some are geosynchronous, which means they stay at a consistent fixed point, matching the rotation of the Earth. The rest (in low earth orbit) whizz around at just under 29,000 km/h. That means they circle the Earth every 90 minutes to two hours, depending on their altitude.
All satellites are allocated a radio frequency. Obviously, no two allocations can be the same. These frequencies are allocated by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
The reason I’ve provided the above two datapoints is that both are finite. (Radio frequencies are theoretically infinite if you take into account only the transmitter, not the receiver).
No satellite can have the same trajectory. And as mentioned above, the same goes for radio frequencies.
So now imagine that there are about 4,600 communications satellites in orbit that belong to one man. Technically speaking, they’re owned by one company, SpaceX. So maybe for the sake of correctness, let me write that there are about 4,660 communication satellites controlled by one man.
Feel Better with that Description?
No, I didn’t think so.
I’d also like to write that chances are, there’s a Musk satellite right above you right now. But the element of chance went out the window with the numbers. There’s definitely a Musk satellite above you right now.
A few years ago that may have seemed scary. But it’s the least scary thing about this scenario. Remember, these are communication satellites. Consider that the most important commodity in today’s and tomorrow’s world is data. The accumulation of power and influence from the amount of data collected from nearly five thousand communication satellites is incalculable.
Musk has effectively blocked the routes and frequencies of thousands of other future satellites, denying them the privilege of data collection.
All that Power in the Hands of One Man
I’m also too scared to let you know – if you didn’t already – that Musk is planning to put almost 50,000 communications satellites into low Earth orbit, just as quick as he can launch them. Outer Space Treaty? Puhf! What Outer Space Treaty?
So students of history, in particular, should be very afraid of the above. Or fans of Orwell, come to think of it.
To the rest of us, well, maybe ignorance is bliss.
If you’re of the latter persuasion, best you avoid my next few articles about Elon Musk. Because I’m going to join the dots, connecting the data in this article with Neuralink brain implants, the data manipulation of X (formerly Twitter) and the real agenda behind Tesla.
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