Most importantly, and expensively, it can survive a nuclear strike. Atomic explosions release bursts of electrical energy that can fry computers, even in orbit. This satellite is hardened to pass through such energy blasts unscathed. More than that, if the satellite loses touch with its control system on the ground, it can operate autonomously, continuing to provide service to its users. It’s the kind of communications network that sends a message of deterrence just by existing, since it would (presumably) survive a nuclear first strike. Au, proud of his work, scoffed a bit at the attention received by autonomous drone and car companies. His vehicle is operating at the real technological frontier.
A superb long-form piece from Quartz, perhaps the most impressive I’ve read from them. Worth your time.
via The US Air Force’s largest plane transported a billion dollar satellite — Quartz