Computer hackers are planning to put their own communication satellites into orbit in order to take the Internet beyond the reach of censors.
The organizers of the scheme, which was outlined at the Chaos Communication Congress in Berlin, said the Hackerspace Global Grid would also involve developing a grid of ground stations to track and communicate with the satellites.
The hacker activist Nick Farr first put out calls for people to contribute to the project in August. He said that the increasing threat of Internet censorship had motivated the project.
“The first goal is an uncensorable internet in space. Let’s take the Internet out of the control of terrestrial entities,” The BBC quoted Farr, as saying.
He cited the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (Sopa) in the United States as an example of the kind of threat facing online freedom. If passed, the act would allow for some sites to be blocked on copyright grounds.
According to the report, used together in a global network, the 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.
“It''s kind of a reverse GPS,” said Armin Bauer, a 26-year-old enthusiast from Stuttgart who is working on the Hackerspace Global Grid,
“GPS uses satellites to calculate where we are, and this tells us where the satellites are. We would use GPS co-ordinates but also improve on them by using fixed sites in precisely-known locations,” Bauer added.
According to the report, Farr and his teammates are working on their project together with Constellation, an existing German aerospace research initiative that mostly consists of interlinked student projects.