Former NASA Director Jim Bridenstein joins the board of directors of the broadband satellite company Viasat as his latest job after NASA, after joining the space-focused private equity firm in January, as he delves into the world of the internet via satellite He says he's concerned about the digital divide and the future of humanity and wants to try something new.
The Verge quoted Bridenstein as saying, when I left NASA, I got a lot of different phone calls and texts about what I should do next or what I could do next.
He said a mentor suggested he contact the companies he cares about, so he sent an email to Viasat founder and CEO Mark Dankberg asking if they needed any help.
There is a digital divide and we need to bridge that, said the former Congressman and NASA chief, adding that he believes Viasat's approach to broadcasting the Internet from long-range orbits using massive, high-throughput satellites is the right plan.
He said he's also drawn to the company's goal of cutting internet costs - almost as much as he had been doing during his position at NASA about cutting costs for astronauts' trips into space. If we want to connect more of the world, we have to cut costs. If we want more connections around the world, we have to bear the costs.
Southern California-based Viasat, a long-time space Internet service provider, plans to launch three technologically complex but long-delayed satellites, called ViaSat-3, in roughly six-month periods beginning in the first quarter of 2022. These three satellites will flood the world with broadband internet with a throughput of 1 terabyte per second.
Smaller satellites in low orbits and in larger swarms are all the rage in satellite broadband these days, as their proximity to Earth reduces the time it takes to send internet signals to homes and businesses.
SpaceX's Starlink constellation is growing rapidly, with more than 1,300 satellites launched into space since 2019.
Jeff Bezos Amazon affiliate is planning a constellation called Project Kuiper. Both groups are pledges of billions of dollars.
Viasat also has plans to send 300 internet satellites into low Earth orbit.
Dankberg said, for Viasat, the appointment of Braiderstelen will help the company gain an advantage in space systems and network technology globally. Jim is also a staunch supporter of maintaining safe access to space through proactive protection measures.
Bridenstine wasn't sure how tough the new job would be, but he will participate in Viasat's quarterly board meetings and possibly annual shareholder meetings.
He said, but if there are other areas where I can either fill in the gaps or provide support during the year, there is no doubt that Fyasat will likely contact me.