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German Hackers Propose Uncensorable Global Grid — With Satellites 262

Posted by timothy
from the das-klingt-aber-gut dept.
braindrainbahrain writes "The members of the Stuttgart Hackerspace have taken it upon themselves to launch their own space program. The immediate goal of the Hacker Space Program is to create an uncensorable internet in space beyond the control of terrestrial entities using a network of ground stations and communications satellites. In the longer term (think the year 2035), they'd like to put a hacker astronaut on the moon!"
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German Hackers Propose Uncensorable Global Grid — With Satellites

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  • by Tekfactory (937086) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:02PM (#38574334) Homepage

    Someone will shut it down, that's why we can't have nice things.

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:04PM (#38574364)

    If the big governments want rid of it, they will find a way.

  • Uncensorable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:04PM (#38574378) Journal
    And what is there to prevent a government transmitting from the ground to disrupt the satellite transmission?
  • Guns (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:07PM (#38574426)

    I tend to agree, even as I applaud them for trying. The fact is that government = guns, and the man with the gun always wins.

    To clarify, government is defined as the organization holding the unique "right" to employ deadly force (or threat thereof) as a business model. You simply cannot compete with that unless you have similar firepower (which government makes damn sure won't ever happen).

  • Landside? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by smi.james.th (1706780) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:09PM (#38574458)

    I read about this on the Make Magazine blog a few days ago. (Link for anyone who's interested.) [makezine.com]

    Something that strikes me as weird though. From TFA:

    In the open-source spirit of Hackerspace, Mr Bauer and some friends came up with the idea of a distributed network of low-cost ground stations that can be bought or built by individuals. Used together in a global network, these stations would be able to pinpoint satellites at any given time, while also making it easier and more reliable for fast-moving satellites to send data back to earth.

    So... these ground stations would I presume be connected together by, uh, the internet? I don't get it.

    Not that I'm against this at all, I think it's a fabulous idea. I'd buy one. Or build one. Or whatever.

  • Uncensorable? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PPH (736903) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:11PM (#38574490)

    I think China has already demonstrated the ability [wikipedia.org] to censor satellite-based communications.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:15PM (#38574546)

    It's still easier: they'll shut down the ground stations.
    They should try mesh network but getting from the Americas to anywhere else looks challenging. Even in the same country lag can be terrible as packets get routed from home router to home router but a round trip from a bunch of satellites to get on the other site of the world is not quick.

  • What about money? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kikito (971480) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:22PM (#38574678) Homepage

    You know, putting satellites in orbit is kind of expensive. Who is going to pay for all that?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:23PM (#38574696)

    > I posit that there is nothing inherently bad with any speech

    Excellent. Let me know your credit card numbers. I'm sure you won't mind if broadcast them to the entire internet - it's just speech. Also, there's no such thing as "imaginary property". You suffer no loss from my telling them to everyone - you are still in possession of the numbers after I do, so this is not theft.

  • Re:Guns (Score:5, Insightful)

    by forkfail (228161) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:50PM (#38575020)

    I always am amazed at you "government is the root of all evil" folks.

    Let's say you do away with governments. Do you think that power will disappear? That government is power?

    How is it that you can see the evil of governments (and yes, they do exist), but not see the fact that there has to be some entity of the people to counterbalance private power? That at least with public power, there is some sort of ability to limit private power.

    Power abhors a vacuum. What you take away from governments, you hand to private entities - corporations, religious entities, whatever - something will fill the void. If you want any sort of control over what happens, you have to make the instrument of public power the tool of the public, and not the tool of the private entities. Therein lies the trick. Simply doing away with government is absolutely handing the deed to the hen house over to those that government is supposed to protect the rest of us from.

  • by sexconker (1179573) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:54PM (#38575080)

    > I posit that there is nothing inherently bad with any speech

    Excellent. Let me know your credit card numbers. I'm sure you won't mind if broadcast them to the entire internet - it's just speech. Also, there's no such thing as "imaginary property". You suffer no loss from my telling them to everyone - you are still in possession of the numbers after I do, so this is not theft.

    The trick is that free speech means you can say whatever you want and never be punished for it, and you can never have your right to say shit removed, but you can be held responsible and punished for the effects of your speech.

  • A few hurdles .. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by n5vb (587569) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @01:54PM (#38575084)
    1. $10k/pound. Maybe less depending on which launch carrier will give you a ride to orbit, and how many sats can be taken up per launch, and how easily you can get each one into the orbit you want. And extra sats, because launch payloads don't always make it [youtube.com].
    2. Latency. Not as bad as with GEO sat links if you have a constellation of LEO sats, but packet round trip times are going to be seriously long, especially if you have multiple sat-to-sat line-of-sight hops on long connections. Unless you're connecting to a host in the footprint of the same sat you're connecting on, those trip times might cause TCP connections to drop if they're not aware of the longer latency. (This was a major problem with commercial "satellite Internet" ISP's a few years ago, as I recall.)
    3. Infrastructure. There will need to be at least one nameserver on the network, ideally a distributed name service that can propagate from a root name authority, and while it's probably not too outrageous to put the backbone routers on the sats and have them dynamically manage their routing tables based on which sats they can see (and possibly determining their locations via SGPS so they can route geographically) and maybe host the distributed DNS service as well, a fair bit of the core infrastructure and management will have to be on the ground somewhere. If it's in a country that doesn't absolutely love the idea of this system being operational, expect that ground control rackspace to be raided at some point. And if it's in an isolated location that isn't well defended by a willing host country, or the host country becomes unwilling at some point in the future, same hazard. (This actually makes some risks far greater because
    4. Attrition. LEO is LEO, and one of the facts of life at LEO altitudes is drag, at least at perigee. The sats will have to have some propulsion capability to maintain orbit, or more will have to be launched periodically to replace the ones that have de-orbited. Higher altitudes are far less susceptible to drag, but increase latency and possibly exposure to van Allen belt radiation. And there's always the danger of random collisions with space debris at almost any altitude, although low-LEO orbits are a lot more full of trash than higher altitudes.

    That's just off the top of my head. A worthy endeavor, but one that would require significant investment and planning.

  • by jdavidb (449077) on Tuesday January 03, 2012 @02:25PM (#38575414) Homepage Journal

    The reason we can't have nice things is not because bad people use them, but because bad people shut them down, using the other bad people as a pretense.

What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Never mind. -- Thomas Hewitt Key, 1799-1875

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