Actually, it doesn't do anything for cruisers that you can't already do with Inmarsat or Iridium
. Having one more supplier in the market might drive prices down a little bit for service
in the Atlantic. There is no advanced technology needed, so it will work just fine and eventually the DOD will extend coverage to the whole world.
Of course, the Chinese will shoot it down at the same time they attack GPS
. You won't be able to navigate or
pick up your email
The interesting thing about this satellite
is that it performs IP routing in the satellite
instead of at the ground station. For mundane activities like email
or web browsing, there isn't much of an advantage -- all your network traffic needs to go through a ground station anyway because all the email and web servers are on the ground.
The real advantage comes when you have two devices in the field that want to communicate directly. For example, you could have a cluster of 10 or 20 cruise
missiles that coordinate their flight through this network (even though they might be out of VHF
range of each other) so that they all arrive at their targets at the same time.
Otherwise, there is a lot of interest in "space networks" as a way for satellites to talk to each other. Several years ago, NASA had RFPs out for protocols for use in various spacecraft-to-spacecraft systems. Sometimes you get a great benefit from using several small vehicles instead of one large one, but getting them to talk to each other is a harder problem than conventional networks or geostationary communication. Geometry changes over time, you're limited by the speed of light, you have to get the antennas pointed the right direction, etc.