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1/3/2012
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Hackers Plan Satellite Network For Web Disaster Time

Hackerspace Global Grid project aims to build a space antenna that will keep the Web up and running in case of an event that affects its availability.

NASA's Next Mission: Deep Space
NASA's Next Mission: Deep Space
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A trio of hackers has an ambitious plan to build a satellite network that will keep the Internet going in case of a disaster that affects its availability.

Hackerspace Global Grid (HGG)--the brainchild of three hackers based in Stuttgart, Germany--will "develop a modular antenna grid for satellite communication," according to the project's website.

"The hacker community needs a fallback infrastructure in case of natural and economic disaster to stay connected," according to the site.

The hackers--Andreas Hornig, Armin Bauer, and one who goes by the online name of "hadez"--cooked up the idea as an answer to a call by a hactivist named Nick Farr at a meeting of the Chaos Communication Club in August to create a hacker space program.

[ A hacker turned good shares his security tips. See 14 Enterprise Security Tips From Anonymous Hacker. ]

"The Hacker Space Program has the ambitious goal of putting a hacker on the moon" by 2034, the group also said on its site. "HGG's aim is to provide the core infrastructure required along the way. We want to understand, build, and make available satellite-based communication for the hackerspace community and all of mankind."

Reached via email Tuesday, both hadez and Hornig confirmed the group's plans as outlined on the website, and shed more light on the specific plans of the group.

Hadez also countered media reports claiming the group plans to put its own satellite into orbit and has launched HGG to fight Internet censorship. He said that other teams are working on the former, and the latter "is not really a specific goal" of the project, although he does not want to "rule out the possibility" that it could ultimately solve this issue.

He also outlined the short-term goals of the group, which include tracking satellites, receiving satellite communications, and using distributed ground stations to communicate with low-earth orbit satellites.

The group outlined its extended plans on its website, saying it aims to build a distributed network of group stations that can receive satellite communications. The first step in that process is "establishing a means of accurate synchronization for the distributed network," according to the website.

Ultimately, Hornig said that HGG will build an open-source communications infrastructure that "everyone can participate in." "We want everyone to use it," he said.

Given the breadth of the task, achieving the vision of HGG will likely take a lot of help. Initially, the group has teamed up with the Constellation project, which is a cloud-based platform for research projects in various aerospace-related sciences and engineering.

Constellation will provide the computing infrastructure for processing complex data captured using HGG distributed ground stations and the global computer grid, according to the group.

The hackers have set up a mailing list online for both the HGG and Constellation projects to provide more information and engage the public in the discussion. It also has provided a list of open tasks that need addressing to elicit help from the greater technology community.

People can track the latest developments of the HGG project on its Twitter feed.

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