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A Tesla launched into space in 2018. Photo: SpaceX via Getty Images

Beginning in 2020, Hypergiant Galactic Systems and the nonprofit Arch Mission plan to deploy the first in a series of small satellites intended to serve as relay points in an eventual interplanetary internet, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: With humans looking to return to the Moon and push into deep space, there is increased demand for building up a telecommunications infrastructure in our solar system, similar to what exists on Earth. An interplanetary internet, which is an idea that NASA has researched and is based on open data protocols, could solve major communications and data transfer challenges that future explorers will face.

The satellites could also serve as data storage devices to back up information from Earth and provide it to deep space explorers or even intelligent life from other planets, should they exist, who may be seeking information about human civilization.

The big picture: The first satellite will be a cubesat launched to the LaGrange point between the Earth and the Moon. This is where the gravitational forces between the Earth and the Moon are balanced by the centrifugal force of a third, smaller body. At such a location, a spacecraft can be parked in place for a long period of time.

  • The pairing up of Hypergiant Galactic Systems and the Arch Mission Foundation means the satellite network will also store huge amounts of data, serving as space-based libraries of life on Earth.
  • According to Arch Mission Foundation's co-founder, Nova Spivack, the first Lagrange library between the Earth and the Moon will be a proof of concept mission that will contain a backup of planet Earth.

"Think of it as an offsite backup for the planet," Spivack tells Axios.

  • Over time, Arch Mission aims to establish a solar system-wide network of libraries.
  • Additional launches are planned for 2021, with satellites sent to other Lagrangian points.

Between the lines: Because planets along with their moons and the sun are in constant motion, the satellites will need to be able to communicate with other nodes in the system by first calculating where they are, in case another object (such as a planet) is blocking them.

They will then have to determine on their own what the best way to get data from point A to point B is, Spivack and Hypergiant CEO Ben Lamm tell Axios. There will still be delays in communications due to the huge distances involved, but the goal is to minimize the lag time.

  • To accomplish this, Hypergiant is developing an AI-driven satellite operating system that is intended to give the satellites an automated way of navigating and decision-making in orbit.

The backstory: The Arch Mission Foundation has already placed data on at least 2 spacecraft, with the installment of a "Lunar Library" on board SpaceIL's Beresheet lunar lander, scheduled to touch down on the Moon's surface in April.

Previously, Arch Mission placed data on board the red Tesla that SpaceX launched into orbit around the sun during its test launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket in 2018.

  • Hypergiant Galactic is a new player in the burgeoning private sector space industry, having spun out of the AI company Hypergiant Industries in February when the company purchased Satellite and Extraterrestrial Operations and Procedures (S.E.O.P.S.), a Houston-based satellite deployment and services firm.
  • That purchase gave Hypergiant Galactic the ability to launch cubesats via the International Space Station.

My thought bubble: The company that successfully lays the groundwork for a space-to-space communications system stands to reap the rewards by charging others for using the network. That said, human exploration beyond low Earth orbit is still years away, and there are significant technical hurdles to overcome before an interplanetary internet comes to fruition.

Go deeper: Axios' Space Deep Dive

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
37 mins ago - World

Airbnb doubles number of Afghan refugees it will house to 40,000

Afghan refugees arriving at Dulles International Airport in Virginia in August 2021. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky and co-founder Joe Gebbia said during a visit to Washington on Wednesday that they're offering temporary housing to 40,000 Afghan refugees worldwide, doubling a previous commitment.

The big picture: The housing typically lasts several weeks, and Airbnb and Airbnb.org provide subsidies to hosts.

Florida lawmaker introduces abortion bill modeled after Texas law

A view of the old Florida Capitol building, which sits in front of the current new Capitol building, in Tallahassee. Photo: Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images

A Florida lawmaker introduced a bill Wednesday modeled after Texas' new law prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, or roughly six weeks — before many people know they are pregnant.

Why it matters: Similar bills introduced to the Florida legislature have failed, but that was before the Supreme Court declined to block Texas' law, which is the most restrictive abortion law to be enforced since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide in 1973, according to AP.

Tech firms' nightmare: Vanishing green cards

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Thousands of green cards are about to go to waste, leaving Google, Microsoft and other tech companies fuming — and pushing the Biden administration to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Why it matters: Tech workers have waited years for green cards that will grant them permanent legal status in the U.S. — but because of pandemic-related processing delays, they will have to wait even longer.