Another unfinished Elon Musk project

With assistance from Derek Robertson

Programming note: From tomorrow through Friday, find this newsletter in your inbox early, at 2 p.m. ET. Ben Schreckinger will be in Abu Dhabi covering Middle East and Africa Summit of the Milken Institute for DFD, focusing on the world of innovation that is unfolding outside the United States

Before he started to dismantle Twitter in public, Elon Musk is best known as a man who promised to build the future, and gave a lot of it, but… He crossed his skis more often. We still haven’t seen the hyperloop tunnels he promised, brain implants, or robotic hubs.

But there appears to be one part of the future Musk has truly built that he’s not interested in using: a potential force identified by researchers in his Starlink satellite system.

It’s no secret that the Ukrainian military relies heavily on the SpaceX service for a number of critical functions in its fight against Russian forces, including voice and electronic communications, drone assistance and even artillery fire correction.

But what if satellites are capable of more than we know? this is the question Todd Humphreysthe army-funded researcher at UT Austin, asked and found out – without the billionaire’s blessing.

Over the past two years, Humphreys and a team of researchers have been reflecting signals sent from thousands of Starlink internet satellites in low-Earth orbit to receivers on Earth, and have found that the constellation can form an accurate navigation system. Moreover, this powerful new functionality could, in theory, be created overnight with just a few modifications to the system software.

If true, this would be critical. Currently, the US-owned Global Positioning System (GPS) is the most widespread technology in the United States global satellite navigation systema generic term describing any satellite constellation that provides positioning, navigation and timing services on a global or regional basis.

It’s reliable enough to take a cross-country trip, record bank transactions or the Ukrainian military fighting against Russian forces — but in reality, it could be better. The satellites in the Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation are “All are subject to jamming. For a system It has an economic effect From about $1 billion a day in the US alone, this is a problem.

Starlink satellite signals are much wider and have more channels than GPS satellites, making it harder for attackers to disable them since there are more frequencies to cover. According to the results, this will provide a reliable backup for the GPS and other navigation systems in Europe, Russia and China It was published in a non-peer-reviewed paper in October. Also, each Starlink terminal focuses on only one satellite at a time with a narrow beam – so it ignores jamming signals coming from different directions.

In contrast, the U.S. military has to use expensive phased-array GPS antennas to prevent its receivers from “pulling everything over them,” like jamming signals, Humphreys told us. If operational, Starlink satellites could provide a low-cost, highly accurate navigation service that is resistant to interference from adversaries.

Humphreys told Politico he heard from Department of Defense leaders who have a “growing interest” in Starlink “because they realize additional value they may not have seen before.”

When asked to confirm this, Air Force and Department of Defense spokespeople referred us to SpaceX; The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Musk already knew about the study, and took it as an opportunity to sound his horn. Starlink “could offer much more robust positioning than GPS, as it would have about 1,000 times more satellites over time,” He tweeted in response to the study, adding that his service will also have a much stronger signal. But “it’s not just a problem today.”

Prior to the paper’s release, Humphreys says he sent the results to his SpaceX contacts (among them a former student) as a courtesy, and…the cockroaches. No one has returned to him, and he takes this as a sign that they are not satisfied with the disclosure of the satellite’s capabilities. It also indicates that the research and its results are reputable.

He said, “If they wanted to reveal this information, they would have done so.”

But it could push the company to see the possibilities around the world if commercial production is undertaken, even though it would be expensive and take years. Still, this could be a worthwhile undertaking as a public service for regions that don’t always have reliable satellite communication — which often happens during conflicts like the war in Ukraine — though it wouldn’t be profitable. The researcher said this is Musk’s problem with the potential mission.

“I am absolutely convinced it will be valuable as a backup GPS-as-a-service to the world,” said Humphreys, calling it “a real revolution happening right under our eyes.”

“The question is different whether it can be monetized.”

The FTX debacle is completely broken The emerging effort to bring cryptocurrencies into a clear regulatory framework cites Politico’s Sam Sutton and Declan Harty I mentioned last night.

Sam and Declan warmed to FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s support for a recently proposed bill that would place cryptocurrencies under CFTC jurisdiction, something SEC Chairman Gary Gensler now says is “very light.” The report is full of crypto-skeptics taking aim at the bill in light of Bankman-Fried’s fall from grace.

The debacle also put the CFTC itself under scrutiny, with consumer advocacy group Better Markets saying the agency had “failed miserably” in overseeing FTX’s parent company. And as Sam also pointed out this morning Morning Money Newsletter, Sherrod Brown, an outspoken consumer advocate and chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, made remarks praising regulators who “stepped up to protect depositors and consumers when crypto companies mislead them into believing their money is safe when it is not.” – Derek Robertson

This could be a difficult time for Meta and the tech industry Great write up, but what do business analysts think of the metaverse’s potential future as a media platform?

in its annual session Media statistics analysisActivate Consulting attempts to put this question into context. Main takeaway: “metaverse” experiences, and virtual media in general, have been on a steady path of evolution since the early 2000s to the era of World of Warcraft and Second Life, but now is the time for them to tackle some practical, non-gaming applications if they’re ever going to expand that far. Companies like Meta Hope.

Some key figures from the report:

  • Over 300 million users spend a huge amount of time in metaverse-like games like Roblox or Minecraft every day
  • The “superusers” who drive technology adoption already spend an inordinate amount of time in these spaces, and nearly three-quarters of them are interested in non-gaming experiences in the metaverse.
  • More than a third of US adults surveyed are interested in creating and customizing their own virtual world

In other words: all the necessary interest is there to build the metaverse, but it still lacks practical use to attract potential interested users. – Derek Robertson

Stay in touch with the whole team: Ben Schrekinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Steve Houser ([email protected]); And the Benton Ives ([email protected]). Follow us @employee on Twitter.

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This newsletter has been edited to clarify that it is the US military that has to use the expensive phased array GPS antennas.

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