The space is open for business. What’s next?

The space is open for business. What’s next?


For 50 years the exploration of space has progressed at such a pace that the technology of the era of “Apollo” tried to turn into large, durable satellites parked over the territories of the earth’s customers in the geostationary orbit. Exotic spares, ready to go into space, armed protection and multi-layer fault tolerance ballooned into a billion-dollar system that should operate for 40 years or more. Only a huge organization with thousands of aerospace engineers could participate in this movement.

But at the turn of the century it became clear that the geostationary orbit will not be like the Parking lot at the stadium, which runs the world Cup. The Internet is literally bankrupted the commercial space industry, whose dear old companions could not compete with ground-based information transfer. And when the financial crisis ten years ago has shaken the global economy, limiting state budgets, which is space exploration, termination of advanced programs, NASA was like a funeral bell for the colonization of space.

Space community was crestfallen; no one expected an imminent explosive emergence of a new entrepreneurial ecosystem, which now offers unprecedented opportunities in space and removes the barriers for extraterrestrial Commerce. The prospect of colonizing the moon, Mars and other planets now seems likely and feasible.

What happens to space exploration

The colonization of space began in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, followed by the monumental program “Apollo”. As “Sputnik” and “Apollo” was going and was planned from the ground up: rocket engines, spacecraft, software, space suits, ground stations, mission control centres and so on.

Such a monolithic approach dominated the space for decades. But recently things have changed. In the year 2010 by Brooklyn’s own Luke Geissbuhler and his son Max has proclaimed a new model of space exploration, by launching a weather balloon with an iPhone to a height of 30 kilometers above the Earth’s surface make for beautiful pictures of the space, as do the expensive satellites. Fun family experiment required the availability of inexpensive phone whose components are approximately the same as the main components of commercial satellites.

Meanwhile, the students of California and Stanford University took the same components a cell phone to collect “they were launched” (CubeSats) — cubes 10х10х10 cm, designed for scientific experiments in low earth orbit (Leo). There are regular satellites through five years due to the resistance of atmospheric particles. They don’t need protection from radiation. The usual modules for a homemade cube-Sats can be ordered on the Internet.

As engineers DARPA, encoding the first Internet Protocol, these students did not appreciate the impact of his invention. They were launched have led to the realization that true scalability is a task that is not feasible for large satellites, and younger. Finally, five decades of accumulated Moore’s law has turned the space industry turned on its head.

Funding startups like Planet Labs and Skybox (they merged) have developed whole constellations of micro-satellites to capture the Earth much faster than the huge and slow satellites. Other companies like SpaceX and OneWeb deploy a huge network of satellites to entangle the Land of Internet and IoT communications.

Team the Silicon valley are creating all of these constellations, of course, focused on software-oriented projects with conventional equipment, allowing operators to quickly launch new apps on our smartphones. The largest CubeSat constellation for General purpose is about 60 “Lemurs” managed by Spire Global is already watching the ships, aircraft and weather.

New installation is that the space is better to colonize a small, inexpensive and fast computers, which will help teams of engineers. Hundreds of startups now use this opportunity to save hundreds of times more money on the satellites than to build big.

New ecosystem

The revolution of micro-satellites requires a new ecosystem that will support operators in these constellations. The most important and difficult step, of course, run, because all Mature missile program was designed long ago to carry a huge and expensive valuable cargo into geosynchronous orbit (36 000 km), and the flight was planned for 5-10 years. New players like Virgin Orbit and Rocket Lab promise cheaper and more frequent transportation into Leo (altitude less than 2000 km).

Operators next generation will also require ground station software for flight control, tracking of satellites, data analysis, cosmic Wi-Fi and more. Manufacturers of satellites and rockets, in turn, will need specialized subsystems, amplifiers, antennas, miniature engines, materials, solar panels and batteries.

Aerospace companies today collect more cheap, best and quick installation, mixing and matching parts of this disparate fragmented ecosystems. New space revolution promises a generous flow of innovation, diversity and growth.

It is the operators of microsatellites organize this new revolution, creating value for people on Earth. Among them are companies that will do the extraction of valuable resources outside the Land, agricultural businesses, manufacturers, Internet service providers, weather forecasters, companies that monitor traffic, and others. The smaller the cube, the further into space.

In other words, the space is open for business. So humanity has colonized the surroundings of the moon, the moon, asteroids, Mars and other objects in the cornucopia distributed, commercial ecosystem, which in an infinite number of times more powerful than any single company or state.