What you need to know about launching your next big idea in space
Thanks to the New Space movement, capturing data insights from space is no longer restricted to government and research organisations – it’s helping to solve challenges in the commercial world too.
The speed, scalability and productivity that new constellations offer mean organisations that haven’t previously considered launching their own space programs can unlock the potential of data captured from space. The analytics they gain are now driving day-to-day efficiency, performance and innovation, and helping to tackle some of the biggest challenges we face.
Growing constellations of satellites, and improved cloud-based data processing capabilities, opens up a world of opportunities for companies that provide critical data to their customers. Maritime, logistics, mining, insurance, utilities and financial services are just some of the industries to benefit but the list will only grow longer in the coming years.
Space data, or Earth Intelligence, can be used to track illegal activity in shipping, or monitor soil moisture to improve crop yields in agriculture. Whatever the industry, it enables better decision-making, and delivers value, whether applied to day-to-day issues or global ones, such as climate change.
The power of small satellites
The availability of small satellite technology and processing technology certainly means constellations can be built cost-effectively and at speed. Now there are more routes to space than ever, but providers offer different levels of service – and as with anything, the devil is in the detail.
When embarking on a journey to deploy and operate a new constellation there are key questions that need answers to set the course right, let’s look at them:
Five questions you might be asking when launching constellation:
- What challenge am I addressing and who do I target?
- What data am I going to collect and who is going to buy it?
- What infrastructure do I need to deliver it cost effectively?
- Who can build my satellite(s) and what are its operational parameters?
- When will it launch and how fast can I go to market?
But here are five questions you may not have thought to ask just yet:
- How will I manage 24/7 satellite/system operations?
- Will it be scalable and optimised?
- How to ensure day-to-day operational efficiency, also while scaling the system?
- How can I automate and optimise scheduling of data collections?
- How can I maximise the value of my investment and future-proof the solution?
A good constellation partner will provide the answers to these questions – and help you to design a journey that will maximise the value of your assets by automating, optimising and increasing data collection.
It’s important to remember that building and launching a satellite is just a first step. You then have to operate and communicate with it thousands of times over in its lifetime. With every new spacecraft expanding your fleet, the system complexity is growing; space assets need to be integrated with operations, ground networking and data production to ensure reliable service delivery.
A constellation requires 24/7 monitoring, anomaly management, and preventative and corrective maintenance, so that data can be captured and processed quickly, reliably and securely.
Ground stations can only talk to one satellite at a time, even when there are multiple satellites overhead. A chain of decisions must therefore be made constantly to determine which ground stations and satellites will interact at any given time.
Space as a service from Spire
An integrated space, ground and cloud system creates a one-stop-shop, enabling users to build on existing infrastructure and expand from in-orbit demonstration and testing to fleet without starting from scratch each time. Matched with service-based subscription models it give companies a faster route to space, without high upfront costs and ongoing maintenance.
By leveraging the proven Spire constellation services and infrastructure, our customers are able to accelerate their business operations, moving from design to on-orbit operations in as little as six months and get a head start for the future scale.
New innovations and service offerings, such as Spire’s Software in Space solution, that allows for launching, scaling or testing new applications without the need to launch dedicated spacecraft by simply uploading software to existing satellites, enables new applications to be directly tested in space, reducing timescales even further. This technology will allow more organisations to access space, iterate at speed, and make continuous improvements on-orbit from the get-go.
And it’s not just about the number of satellites in operation but how they’re used to support network efficiency, data productivity and business continuity. Spire’s AI-enabled automated constellation operations enables users to automatically manage multi payload systems, while reducing latency and increasing geographical coverage, no matter how many satellites they have.
A constellation service for Myriota
One company leveraging the Spire constellation infrastructure and services is Australia-based Myriota,, a direct-to-orbit (Non-Terrestrial Network) IoT communications leader on a mission to deliver better outcomes for people and planet through simple to use IoT solutions that “just work”, anywhere.
Myriota, known for its security and battery life, surpassing the nearest alternative by 10-30 times has partnered with Spire Global – the leading provider of space services – to accelerate Myriota’s global service expansion, which now supports all key regions including the US, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Latin America.
In 2021 Spire and Myriota unveiled plans to rapidly ramp up Myriota’s coverage to a global, low latency constellation, expanding its existing coverage across North America, Australia and New Zealand to other markets including Europe. Using Spire’s proven constellation and global operations platform, the company expects to quickly and cost-effectively scale its IoT services to meet rising global demand.
David Haley, CTO and co-founder of Myriota, said that strong partnerships and cultural alignment are key to getting the most from Spire’s constellation.
“We own and operate some of our satellites and we partner where it makes sense. Maintaining that flexibility and commercial approach has worked very well for us and our customers. We’re relatively agnostic about how space hardware is built and deployed, provided it happens quickly and with high mission assurance.
“Spire has invested significantly in innovation and automation, and has an extensive and growing constellation and ground station network. It’s proved it can build and deploy quality radio-defined software that works in space, quickly and securely. Integrating our systems means the outcome is greater than the sum of its parts.
“We’ve also seen strong cultural alignment, which has fueled the success of the program. We share similar values when it comes to collaboration, namely integrity and relentless continuous improvement.”
Although the partnership is relatively new, David explained that it had already yielded positive results:
“We’ve integrated existing Spire satellites into the Myriota network. The Myriota module is smart and learns about the new satellites as we add them into the network. It’s been exciting watching the data run through the satellites and be delivered to customers, and then see the statistics on modules in the field.”
The result, as David concludes, is that customers are reimagining what they thought was possible and it’s created opportunities for new markets and products.
“Our partnership with Spire means that our customers will benefit from secure, near real-time, bi-directional communications.
Users can now access more data faster, from anywhere on earth. Our tracking and logistics customers have already told us they’ll be able to address 100 per cent of their target use cases, and our customers who use IoT for sensing and monitoring will be able to refresh their data more frequently. In preventative maintenance, users are regularly informed which gives them an opportunity to respond to issues quickly.”
Myriota’s “just work” IoT solutions are trusted across diverse sectors, including agriculture, environment, resources, defence, and transport and logistics. By harnessing cutting-edge technology, Myriota empowers businesses worldwide with IoT capabilities that work effortlessly, irrespective of location.
To learn more about Spire Constellation services for software, hosted payload or bespoke solutions in space, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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Here’s an insider secret: It’s not about the number of satellites you have. It’s about customizing them to work together-as a constellation-with a provider who specializes in network efficiency, data productivity and business continuity.