Space And Its Power To Boost Businesses
We’ve seen the transformative power of digital technology in every sector, and space is no exception.
In a departure from the largely government-driven space programmes of the past, the industry has taken a major step forward by applying AI, cloud computing, blockchain, advanced analytics, advanced connectivity and other technologies to projects for the commercial world.
New Space has heralded a new era of accessible space-based services. Such is the demand for these services that the global ‘space economy’ grew by around 6.7% per year between 2005 and 2017, while in the US alone, it has rocketed by more than 70% in the past decade, reaching almost $423.8 billion in 2019.
Technology and advanced manufacturing methods are breaking down barriers to entry into space and opening up a world of opportunities, not just for big businesses and governments but start-ups and scale-ups too. But the key is not just in getting to space, but getting the new service to work and be quick about it.
Level up in space services
So accessible have space-based services become that they can deliver a tangible return-on-investment quicker than ever, without the prohibitive outlay once required.
Back in 2015, The Aerospace Corporation drew comparisons between the time it took to launch a government satellite system (10 years or more) and a commercial one (two to three years). The world has changed dramatically since then and, certainly in our case, we’ve reached the point where we can deploy new sensors and satellites from concept and design to launch and, most importantly, on-orbit production at industry-leading speed in just six months.
This is partly down to our lean manufacturing processes, which give us the capability of delivering a new satellite every 10 days. All our LEMUR nanosatellites are designed, assembled, rigorously tested and operated in-house, from our base in Glasgow, using state-of-the-art production systems. We continuously iterate our spacecraft design, with each new iteration capable of solving more real-world business challenge while maintaining the stable and reliable platform and operations. We’ve taken every step possible to reduce the chance of launch delays by building an extensive launch pipeline and working with a host of providers. The fact that our launch volumes are high also gives us greater flexibility because we’re able to find an alternative time slot easily and meet the deadline.
To date, we have launched more than 110 satellites in space, and created a resilient, fully-integrated satellite, ground station, and cloud-based operations platform to enable delivery of our own critical data products but also enable other innovators and businesses to lift off. Our satellites transmit diverse types of data collected from below the earth’s surface to the edge of the atmosphere to our ground stations and customers. Supporting research and development projects in the weather forecasting, flood prevention, maritime and aerospace industries among others, this data is fueling research and catalysing new services and business opportunities.
We have also taken it to the whole new level when it comes to flexibility and scalability of Space Services. In addition to offering standard hosted payload services for customer technology onboard LEMUR satellites, we’re able to deploy our customer’s software to existing satellites using Software Defined Radios (SDRs) already in space. So they don’t need to launch new spacecraft to test their application and accelerate their roadmap even more. This provides an extremely cost-effective on-demand way to test early applications. Spire can also source or design custom sensors or communications systems to offer an end-to-end solution to our customers. Whether accessing our existing payloads for deploying new software, launching one satellite or many, our platform is ready to embrace our customers’ ambitious growth plans seamlessly and hassle free.
Unlocking potential for new real-world applications
It’s certainly exciting to see space-based services taking off and unlocking new opportunities. We’re excited and looking forward to building more partnerships with forward-thinking companies and innovators that will shape the future.
We have recently announced that we’re working with the Orbitare team to test and start deploying their Spaceloop service, an innovative satellite communication system designed to deliver easy-to-use and affordable IP messaging, email and file transfer capabilities on our nanosatellite, and meant to be the future of personal satellite communications.
Our collaboration with Australian Office of National Intelligence (ONI) saw the rapid development of the Djara satellite from concept to orbital deployment. The Djara satellite is part of an Australian National Intelligence Community program to experiment with commercial satellite technologies, including the on-board application of advanced machine learning capabilities.
Another project, ADLER-1 has seen us partner with the Findus Venture GmbH and the Austrian Space Forum to launch ADLER-1 (Austrian Debris Detection Low Earth (orbit) Reconnoiter) satellite with an innovative mission to study the (micro) space debris environment in low-Earth orbit to complement space debris models by obtaining in-situ data.
The future is now
While space is endlessly fascinating to many people, seeing what can be achieved in short timeframes and on relatively low budgets is key to its development as an industry. But the future is promising: the vast amount of surface, atmospheric, ionosphere and thermosphere data we now collect is already helping companies and governments to tackle numerous real-world challenges and gain global competitive advantages.
There’s a growing appetite for seamless, on-demand space experiences. The most successful service providers will combine their technical and operational expertise – space platform, ground infrastructure, operations and processes – with simplified service models and a fast, easy, reliable and scalable route to space, and roadmap for growth.
Click here to find out more about Spire Space Services offerings.