For Yahyanejad, satellites and the possibility of using them to access foreign information have been a lifelong obsession. As a teenager growing up in Tehran in the early 1990s, he attempted to build a satellite dish out of metal mesh when he couldn’t find one of the devices on the black market. (He never got his own DIY dish to work.) Years later, he became a post-doctoral researcher in bio-informatics at Stanford in 2004, and struck upon the idea of using those same satellite dishes as an alternative to Iran’s besieged internet. But he says it took another decade before Iranian satellite receiver boxes began to have use USB ports, making Toosheh’s scheme possible. Starting around 2012, he began assembling a developer team to finally enact the idea, and they came up with the method of compressing the data into the mpeg transport stream format. “We built [the software] from scratch. As far as we know, no one else has done this before,” says Yahyanejad.