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Storage on the Moon: Lunar Lunacy?

Startup TransOrbital is promising the ultimate disaster recovery service - on the moon

But finding storage vendors to resell its lunar disaster recovery and archival services may not be the easiest task in the world (or the solar system). "In general, the ability to recover information is the biggest challenge; not the ability to store it in a safe location," says EMC Corp. (NYSE: EMC) spokesman Rick Lacroix, emphasizing that he is not familiar with TransOrbital’s business plan or technology. "The most important thing is recovering the information in a rapid manner. For each hour of downtime, companies can lose millions and millions of dollars."

Pat McAnally, senior director of marketing at disaster recovery company SunGard (NYSE: SDS), notes that if TransOrbital is storing data on the moon, latency and transmission times must be considered. "You have to be back in business the same day," she says. "I’m not a rocket scientist, [but] given the distance of the moon, how are they going to do that?"

The company, which launched a test satellite last December from Kazakhstan, will send servers and storage to the moon in spacecrafts, but the data will flow back and forth via wireless connections, Laurie says.

Laurie won’t reveal what kind of storage technology the company will use, but he insists that it is top-notch and will allow customers to retrieve data just as they would normal communications. "Access will normally take 2.5 minutes because of the distance to the moon (an average of 250,000 miles each way)," he writes in an email. "However, once the process begins, the flow should be fairly seamless."

Meanwhile, on TransOrbital's first voyage, Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) will send its iPaq Pocket PCs into outer space, the companies announced last week. The devices will integrate with TrailBlazer’s systems, synchronizing and sharing data, TransOrbital says. On subsequent voyages, the company claims, the handheld PCs will be strapped to the outside of the spacecraft to send streaming video images to earth.

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