005: moolah over marin – space programs, drug cartels & bitcoins

i was talking to a friend on gchat the other day doing our usual routine of dropping random links to each other – some ideas formed and coalesced. tonight i thought i would have a stab at expanding on them and committing them to this poor excuse of a regular blog…and yes the title of this post is a bad dead kennedys pun.

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do you know how cheap it is to put a satellite in space?

i didn’t know until it was mentioned the other week on the gweek podcast:

its.dirt.cheap

$8,000 for a 0.75-kg tubesat
or
$12k to $19k for the more familiar 10 x 10cm cubesat

PLUS this includes the cost of putting them into space. and through http://interorbital.com/ you can pay for them by paypal…

this.is.a.big.deal

this year alone 3 cubesats that have been kickstarted:
the skycube,
ardusat,
kicksat – this is a project that really excites me. its a cool launch platform for little spacecraft called ‘sprite’ – which if combined with the autonomous drone flocking technology that’s being developed – you could do cool things.

with these things getting so cheap: i’m wondering if somebody will do infrastructure:

i.e. you use some kind of Space Wifi to get to a node, and it rebroadcasts to the ground. or message is sent up into space and replicated and held by the satellites on their own clustered mesh, and then sent back down to earth when you want to retrieve it – maybe it would work a bit like bittorrent?

bandwidth is a huge problem – what kind of speeds do you get connecting to a tiny aduino satellite in space essentially over HAM radio frequencies? how can you improve this? ::  a router on a weather balloon? moving the internet on and up to autonomous mesh networks of drones bridging the gap between near space and the ground?

one problem is that they don’t last very long, they fall back to earth and burn up after a short period. but with the price dropping why wouldn’t you just send more up into the mesh?

but if they were there, and you had access to them, what would you do with them?

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cryptographic keys in space are the killer app:

it generates a keypair from random cosmic background noise, then it broadcasts your public key back to you, the NSA cannot get them back, after that you would only need the spacenode for authentication moving forward.

fuck. i’m pretty sure this is a doable project now if we had the cash!!

and/or

i’d put my bitcoin wallet in space – not so much as an offshore bank account, but an ‘off planet’ one.

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who has the cash AND is interested in laundering money and communicating privately ?

drug cartels. (EDIT: and revolutionaries)

10 years ago, if anyone had told you either of the following two facts about 2012 what would you have thought?

1. commercial space launches are here, indeed only today the space x cargo module docked with the ISS, and the list of private spaceflight companies with products in testing and development is extensive.

2. drug cartels have enough money/invested technology, that they build their own GOD DAMN SUBMARINES AND TANKS….

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lets put our futurism hats on just for a moment shall we?

in the near future as the cost of putting things in space gets even cheaper and multinationals make the transition to transnationals, i’m pretty sure they will all have their own space programs. think Monsanto moving apocalypse GM/Biotech to test labs in space – if shit fucks up, you send it on a one way course to the sun.

copenhagen suborbitals are already moving forward with their open source space rocket so the plans and specifications of building a space rocket will be out there for all + we as the general public will have more comprehensive understanding of doing things in space. combine this with advances in Aduino chips and other picosat technologies and autonomous open source drone mesh research:

why can’t drug cartels have their own space programs too?