While thinking about this area, I thought you might enjoy this photograph taken from an ESA spacecraft.

It is a single image from an EnviroSat showing contrails of aircraft traveling across the SE UK and Northern Europe.

With this much travel -- happening everywhere -- global communications are essential, critical and for various reasons, vulnerable.

North Sea -Spring 2009

Just for fun, about 10 years ago, I made a "back of the envelope" calculation of how many people were in the air traveling 24 hours a day (not the same people of course).

There are about 200 countries. At least half have 50 airports each. The other half have say, 4.

Each major airport supports take-offs every 5-10 minutes for a minimum of 10 hours per day.


Number of major airports = 200 x 50 = 10,000. Forget the others.

Number of airplane take-offs - 6 per hour (conservative) for 10 hours = 60 take-offs per major airport.

An average airplane holds 200 people (given the recession, although in the past 10 years, I've never had an empty seat next to me!)..


60 take-offs x 200 people = 12,000 people.

12,000 people x 10,000 airports = 120,000,000 million people are in the air simultaneously.

Even if it was 1/10th of that, a city the size of London or New York or Tokyo, are people living in the air 24 hours a day.


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