Satellites as a Service: What, Why, and How

Satellites as a Service: What is it? The Collaborative/Sharing Economy is now applied to satellites. Now you can “own” your very own satellite, for a fraction of the time and price. Just as Uber enabled anyone to access expensive town cars and chauffeurs and Airbnb enabled us to access beach-side mansions for a single night, this same business model is applying to expensive satellite technology. You don’t need to be a tech billionaire or a government agency to launch your own space fleet into orbit, you can simply rent some of theirs. Key Terms to Know: Satellites as a Service:
  • Satellites as a Service (SataaS) – You no longer need to own your own satellite, now you can have access with pay-as-you-go services, similar to Uber or Airbnb for orbiting technology.
  • Ground Station – The vital links on the ground that transmit data to and from orbiting satellites. Also called “earth stations.” Connects to the cloud providers.
  • CubeSat – Miniature satellites that are approximately 4 in. x 4 in. x 4 in created by using off-the-shelf technologies; over 900 are in orbit.
  • Downlink/Uplink – Downlink is the link from a satellite down to a ground station. Uplink is the link from a ground station up to a satellite.
  • X band, S band – Radar frequencies being used by the satellites. X band is at a higher frequency and providers higher resolution images, where S band has a lower frequency, but is less affected by weather like fog. Many satellites carry transmitters with both frequencies as they are complementary.
  • Cloud Services – You’re already familiar with this technology, but now, they are ingesting satellite-based service data, which all of us can soon access for a marginal fee.
Satellites as a Service: Why will it Matter? This emerging trend really captured my attention for a few reasons: 1) Anyone can soon access data from space. 2) It’s the Collaborative/ Sharing Economy being applied to yet a new set of assets: in space. 3) The data that will be delivered is literally world changing, I’ll explain all of this, below. All of this is part of the bigger trend I’m seeing, as the sixth digital era, as we shift to off-world technologies. Satellites as a Service: How will Companies Use It?   Companies like Amazon and Planet are making satellites relevant to every business and soon regular ol’ consumers. There is so much data in space that has a number of different applications and these services are making it easier to access them. Just imagine, on-demand imagery of everything. How could you use it?
Use Case (above image): Watch your house for intruders at night regardless of cloud cover or smoke for a nominal subscription fee and connect with your other security systems.
Use Case: Enable satellites to keep track of you during a long hike, which can see through vegetation. smoke. and where cell phone towers do not reach.
Use Case: Check actual traffic patterns and analyze your commute.
Use Case: Access crop health and actual sourcing of goods from the farm where you’re consuming your own food and beverages.
Use Case (Above image): Look and analyze infrastructure quality like bridges, during normal usage and during storms.
Use Case: Look for survivors and emergency crews during fires, these satellites peer through smoke. Similarly, look for which manufacturing building or forest or downed power line is producing the emissions or smoke.
Use Case: Look at actual traffic to your store, and that of competitors; validate or refute market rumors and drive better decisions with new visibility
Get the big picture of our little planet; change your business. In video games, there’s a birds eye view to see an entire map and all the players which is called “God View.” Satellites as a service gives all of us mortals god view, the implications are as vast as your imagination can take you. Our new reality is taking us to outer space. New business models will emerge, as this industry takes off. (Images courtesy of Planet Labs, Inc. and Donald Giannatti via Unsplash )

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