I love living in the future.

This was from the SpaceX + T-Mobile Update a few minutes ago but it is not the main message for today.

We would love to have T-Mobile on Mars.

Elon Musk
August 25, 2022
SpaceX + T-Mobile Update

The real message wasn’t quite as cool, but it was still awesome stuff.

Sometime late next your existing T-Mobile phone will have messaging (not necessarily voice or data until later) connectivity anywhere in the lower 48 states, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, large portions of Alaska, and wide areas of U.S. territorial waters.

The vision is no more cell phone dead zones. Emergency services in your most remote areas anywhere in the country and eventually the entire world. The price? Free for most existing T-Mobile service plans.

There were some interesting technical problems which had to be solved. It works in the lab and they are confident it will work in the real world.

Among the problems are:

  • The satellites are traveling at 17,000 MPH and compensated for the doppler effect is required.
  • The satellites are 50 miles away and the satellite antennas need to be about five meters by five meters to receive and transmits signals to the cell phone antennas.
  • Because of the larger antennas they plan to use SpaceX Starships rather than Falcon 9s..

I love living in the future.


5 thoughts on “I love living in the future.

  1. Pretty cool from a perspective of making emergency communications possible. I do still get visions of those phone-addicted souls who can’t tear themselves away from the tiny screen, tripping over their feet out in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness as they text their BFFs that they just saw a squirrel.

    Sometimes it’s nice to be in a place where you are on your own. Or as to paraphrase Edward Abbey, be in a wilderness where there’s a good chance you might be killed and eaten. (And no, Pike Place doesn’t count….)

  2. We have certainly made a lot of progress in terms of energy requirements, and we keep adding to the amount of energy required to run our increasing tech world. However, as I have mentioned there are limits to what we can do. And we should not forget that there are limits to what we should do.

    For example, newer methods of building high density chips require factories that use more power than entire countries. Given that the world is trying to move to renewal energy with not enough energy to go around should we really go there? And even if we should just rely on fossil fuels there is also peak oil. Yes, stupidity plays a role in the shortages, but humans are fallible. If you need something 7/24, 360 days, year in and year out, it pays to stay with the tried and true and to not put all eggs into one basket.



    There are also particular risks to the T-Mobile plan. Putting more and more near-earth satellites risk making near earth satellites even more expensive as space junk increases.

    We almost never ask the question should we. It is full steam ahead and questions later. That’s how we got the superfund sites from the last century most of which are still no man lands. That’s how we got the forever chemicals. That’s how we got the nitrate poisoning. That’s how we got the mega cities with their mega problems and the hollowing out of rural areas. That’s how we got people thinking that they can have their cake and eat it too.

    Nothing in this world is free, yet we have created a world in which many people see it as free. I remember driving up to Washington from Colorado in 1999 in which the talk of the day was that we knew how to prevent economic cycles. Then came the tech bust a couple of years later. Still, we persist with the perception that we are moving towards free with no limits. Terraforming Mars – no problem. Even this T-Mobile project is ‘free’.

    In the meantime, we have dismissed the historical social rules that made life worth living. We are now living in a rudderless society where anything goes except traditional restrictive rules.

    • Well, a factory that uses more power than a small impoverished failed state like Sri Lanka doesn’t mean much. I noticed the Bloomberg article is, in the usual Bloomberg fashion, full of scary words but nary a quantitative fact to be seen anywhere.
      The obvious question to ask for any product, including the chips the article talks about, is: what fraction of the lifetime energy consumption of the device is needed to manufacture it? For example, I think for electric cars the answer is a surprisingly large fraction but I don’t think it’s anywhere near half. I assume the same is true here.
      One point to keep in mind is that the article focuses on the AMSL machines, even though those are only one component in a large and complex production line full of weird machinery and exotic chemicals. I wonder how much of it comes from envy at the fact that the technology in question is beyond the capabilities of any US company. It doesn’t seem it should be — but catching up would be quite hard, given that AMSL has a 30 or so year head start and the crazy hard engineering required isn’t something US universities take very seriously anymore.

      • I agree the Bloomberg article is sloppy writing and I should know better. For comparison, Sri Lanka uses 13 billion kWh of electric energy per year which is not even enough to support one industrial sized aluminum smelter.

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