Happy April First.
Smug is something I am not right now. I wish that the means to take advantage of this patently unique situation would appear. You have understood: Terrestar-1 could fundamentally improve the lives of millions of people. You have donated, you have volunteered, you have advocated. You are incredible.
I wish today wasn’t april fools and our humorous acquisition of a satellite was true. I wish that I could join you in your joy, knowing that we have achieved something monumental in the pursuit of the betterment of mankind. We haven’t yet, but we will, because we must.
Several weeks ago I was invited to speak at the Satellite 2011 conference in Washington DC. I sat on a small panel and spoke to a room of enthusiastic morning-people. I tried my best to articulate how satellites, and communications in general, can (and are) directly benefitting peoples lives. I talked about Japan, and the thousands who were already listed on the Google Person Finder. I explained Ushahidi and how disaster mapping was so beneficial, so vital to saving and protecting lives. The effect on the telecommunications infrastructure in Japan post earthquake was described rather simply: “it didn’t even blink.” It stayed on, resilient, connecting people in their hour of need. Brilliant.
I juxtaposed the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that shook Haiti and how the telecommunications were almost entirely severed. How procuring satellite comms was a nightmare, how groups like Invenio, frantically setting up microwave links atop toppled buildings, were the heros that saved many lives in that dire situation. Those links allowed NGO’s to coordinate, allowed them to ask for supplies. Internet access was the vital tool that helped them do their job.
I described the torturous moments for friends and family abroad as Egypt pulled the plug on it’s citizens. How the Internet, almost in unison, posed the question: “They can do that? Unplug an entire country?” How Tunisia used the Internet to control it’s population by tracking Facebook logins, how Libya is still holding its citizens hostage under a black veil of zero connectivity. During every revolution, governments worked feverishly to silence their people. Violating their freedom of speech, alienating their right to connect, to be informed, to be aware.
As I packed up my laptop and said my thank you’s to the panel a man approached me. With his hand outstretched he said, “I have 52 schools all over Africa. If you get your satellite, there are thousands of children who would benefit from it. Please consider us.” I said to him, “If we get our satellite, I would be honored if you would allow us to serve you.”
To that man, to the survivors, to the heros who are already serving those in their hour of need: someday soon the reality that we played out in jest, will be a reality played out in truth.
Thank each and every one of you for your continued support. Join us as we continue to work to Buy A Satellite.