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    The Evolution of the Satellite Economy

    enSeptember 19, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Space Industry's Exponential Growth: Bringing Connectivity to the UnconnectedIn 2022, the space industry broke records with 186 successful launches, driving down costs and enabling new applications like connectivity for the 4 billion unconnected people through companies like Astronus and STOKE Space.

      The space industry is experiencing exponential growth, with significant declines in the cost of sending a kilogram to orbit leading to a renaissance of activity. Companies like Astronus and STOKE Space are trying to capitalize on this trend by bringing connectivity to the 4 billion people without Internet access. John Genmark from Astronus, who has been in the industry since 2006, discusses how competition and costs are shaping up, and why Astronis is focusing on geostationary orbit instead of low Earth orbit. The space sector saw a record 186 successful rocket launches in 2022, and entities from various sectors are buying the capabilities offered by these companies. The future of the satellite economy is promising, with possibilities of mining asteroids and manufacturing drugs in space no longer sounding far-fetched.

    • The space industry's shift from government-led to private-ledFrom monolithic government programs to innovation and startups, the space industry has evolved to prioritize private companies and competition

      The space industry has undergone significant transformation from a government-dominated sector to one with a growing number of private companies. When the speaker started working at the XPRIZE Foundation as an intern, they were part of a new wave in the space industry, with private companies like Virtual Galactic emerging. At the time, industry groups were largely controlled by major aerospace and defense companies, but the Commercial Space Flight Federation was established to represent the interests of the new emerging set of companies. Previously, spaceflight was characterized by large, monolithic government programs, such as the Apollo era, and entrenched cost-plus contracts. However, with the retirement of the space shuttle, conditions became more favorable for private companies to compete, leading to a shift towards more innovation, startups, and failures. Overall, the space industry has transitioned from a government-led model to one with a greater role for private companies.

    • A new era of space innovationTechnological advancements, private investment, and government opportunities have led to smaller, more cost-effective satellites, paving the way for a new era of space exploration and innovation.

      The combination of private investment, government opportunities, and technological advancements have led us to a golden age of space innovation. The retirement of older, large satellites paved the way for smaller, more cost-effective alternatives, thanks to the availability of technologies like lithium-ion batteries, lower-cost chips, and improved propulsion systems. These advancements allowed companies to build small satellites with significant capabilities at surprisingly low costs, shifting the satellite economy and opening up new opportunities. At Astronics, we're focusing on smaller geostationary orbit satellites to contribute to this disruption, pushing the boundaries of what's possible in space. The size difference between the old and new satellites is significant. While historical satellites were as large as a school bus, small satellites can range from a breadbox to a large home appliance. The shift to smaller satellites has huge implications, making space more accessible and cost-effective. It's fascinating to consider the contrast between a massive school bus-sized satellite and a tiny toaster-sized one, both orbiting Earth. Overall, these advancements have set the stage for a new era of space exploration and innovation.

    • Historically valuable GEO vs. emerging LEO satellitesGEO offers consistent coverage over large areas but faces harsh radiation and high costs, while LEO satellites provide faster data transmission and more frequent updates but require more ground stations for coverage.

      The geostationary orbit (GEO) has historically been the most valuable orbit for satellite operations due to its ability to provide consistent coverage over large areas, making it ideal for applications like broadcast satellite TV. However, the challenges of operating in GEO, including the harsh radiation environment and high costs, have led to a shift towards lower Earth Orbit (LEO) for recent satellite developments. The difference between LEO and GEO lies in their orbits and the resulting benefits – LEO satellites offer faster data transmission and more frequent updates but require more ground stations for coverage, while GEO satellites provide consistent coverage over larger areas but have higher costs and face harsher radiation conditions. Despite the challenges, the potential value of GEO has led some companies to pursue innovative solutions to overcome these obstacles and tap into this valuable market.

    • Exploring high-orbit satellite technology despite challengesSpace technology in high-orbit presents significant challenges, but the potential benefits are immense, requiring expertise and innovation to overcome complexities

      Space technology, particularly for high-orbit satellites, presents significant challenges due to extreme temperature swings and radiation. However, the value of having assets in these orbits is immense, as they can provide broadband Internet coverage to entire countries with minimal overhead. The number of satellites required for continuous coverage is large, but the capability and potential benefits are significant. When we started exploring this field in 2015, we underestimated the complexity, especially regarding the radiation environment and the lack of suitable components for our needs. Despite the challenges, we were confident due to our team's expertise and the rapid advancement of technology in the space industry. It was a classic case of not knowing what we didn't know, but with determination and innovation, we were able to overcome these challenges and make progress towards our goals.

    • Connecting the World Through SpaceSpaceX's satellite launches for Internet access open up opportunities for healthcare, education, and global knowledge, providing a solution in areas where traditional infrastructure is challenging.

      SpaceX's successful launches of satellites for providing Internet access to specific regions is a significant achievement, as it opens up a world of opportunities for people who currently lack access to the Internet. This includes access to healthcare information, education, and the sum total of the world's knowledge. With fiber optic connections becoming increasingly expensive and challenging to implement, particularly in mobile-first societies, satellite Internet provides a solution to connect people everywhere they go. The upcoming dedicated launch of a Falcon 9 rocket with Astranis' logo marks a new level of commitment to this mission, and the value of connecting the world through space cannot be overstated. It's a game-changer for economic growth and improving lives, especially in areas where traditional Internet infrastructure is difficult to establish.

    • The backhaul problem prevents many from accessing the Internet due to high costs of connecting cell towersSatellite technology is addressing the backhaul problem by providing affordable and reliable Internet connectivity to remote areas, with improving economics and mass production making it economically viable for large quantities of dedicated connections.

      There is a significant issue, known as the backhaul problem, which prevents large numbers of people around the world from accessing the Internet due to the high cost of connecting cell towers to the Internet. This problem is particularly prevalent in remote or hard-to-reach areas where laying fiber optic cables is not feasible. To address this, companies are turning to satellite technology to provide affordable and reliable Internet connectivity to these underserved populations. The economics of satellite technology are improving, and with the mass production of satellites, the cost of providing Internet access is becoming more economically viable. The potential market for this service is vast, with telcos, service providers, and enterprise customers all expressing interest in large quantities of dedicated connections. The challenge now is to continue driving down costs and scaling up production to reach as many of the unconnected population as possible. Despite the progress made, the problem of providing Internet access to the world's unconnected population has grown worse over time, and it is up to the space industry to find a solution. Traditional methods like balloons and drones have high operational costs and come with their own set of challenges, making satellite technology the most promising solution for providing Internet access to the world's most remote and underserved areas.

    • Solving Global Connectivity Needs with Satellite TechnologySatellite industry aims to make technology cost-effective to meet demand for broadband internet on planes and serve governments' needs, unlocking vast potential applications and growth in aerospace industry.

      The satellite industry is working on solving a major global problem by providing affordable and accessible internet connectivity to individuals and enterprises, including in-flight WiFi. The demand for broadband internet on planes is massive, yet there's been a market failure in meeting this demand due to insufficient satellite capacity. Companies like the one discussed are selling to enterprises, primarily telcos and cell tower service providers. The US government is also a significant buyer due to national security implications. The industry's goal is to make satellite technology more cost-effective to meet the connectivity needs of Fortune 500 and even Fortune 2000 companies, and beyond. This is just a small part of the business, but the demand is huge. In-flight WiFi is a prime example of this untapped market, with two satellites dedicated to boosting capacity over the US. The potential applications for governments in this field are vast, making it a crucial area for innovation and growth in the aerospace industry.

    • Importance of reliable communications for national security and vulnerability of traditional geostationary satellitesThe invasion of Ukraine by Russia highlighted the need for a more decentralized and redundant approach to satellite communications using small satellites to reduce dependence on a few key geostationary satellites and enhance communications capabilities.

      The invasion of Ukraine by Russia served as a stark reminder of the importance of reliable communications for national security and the vulnerability of traditional geostationary satellites. With the military relying on a small number of large, expensive geosatellites for communication capabilities, the loss of even one satellite can have devastating consequences. This was demonstrated when Russia took out a commercial satellite, KASat, used by Ukraine for communications, with a massive cyberattack on day 1 of the invasion. By breaking the modems on the ground that communicated with the satellite, the Russians effectively cut off communications across almost all of Ukraine. This event underscores the need for a more decentralized and redundant approach to satellite communications, such as the swarm approach using small satellites, which can provide more scattered and maneuverable communications capabilities and reduce dependence on a few key satellites.

    • The aging infrastructure of satellites poses a national security riskThe long lifespan of satellites leaves them vulnerable to threats despite cybersecurity advancements, and orbital debris is a shared problem with uncertain solutions, but the satellite economy and space infrastructure are expanding with promising advancements in technology

      The aging infrastructure of satellites, some of which have been in orbit for decades, poses a significant national security risk due to potential vulnerabilities and the lack of iteration in technology. While advancements in cybersecurity are being made, the long lifespan of satellites means that they may still be susceptible to threats. Another concern is orbital debris, which is a shared problem among countries and could take decades to clean up. Looking ahead, the satellite economy and space infrastructure are rapidly expanding with advancements in technology such as reusable rockets and potential industries like asteroid mining. While the exact potential of these opportunities remains uncertain, they hold great promise and excitement for the future of space exploration and commerce.

    • Building a lunar infrastructureDespite challenges, opportunities exist for businesses to contribute to lunar infrastructure, from communication systems to essentials like food and fuel.

      Establishing a lunar presence, whether through government or private programs, requires a substantial infrastructure and economy on the moon. This includes communication systems, transportation for cargo and people, and essentials like food, water, and fuel. The challenges of building in space, such as black swan events, have made it a difficult endeavor for companies. Despite these challenges, opportunities exist for businesses to specialize in specific components of the lunar ecosystem. One company shared their experience dealing with COVID-19, which led to a determination by the Space Force that they were part of the US National Critical Infrastructure, allowing them to reopen and continue their work on communication satellites.

    • Celebrating Space Exploration's New Golden AgeSpace exploration is experiencing a new golden age with regular launches and advancements. Share this episode and stay informed to be part of the journey towards new frontiers.

      We're living in a new golden age of space exploration. The advancements and achievements in this field are monumental, with regular launches sending technology into orbit and adding new functionality. These moments should be celebrated not just by astronomers, but by everyone. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend or leave a review at rate this podcast.com/a16z. Your support helps us continue producing content and keeps us from feeling like we're talking into a void. Keep in mind that space exploration is a complex and exciting field, with new developments and discoveries happening all the time. By staying informed and engaged, you'll be part of the journey towards new frontiers.

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    …there’s a whole lot more where that came from! After tuning in Pathfinder #0037, we’re confident you’ll come away with a comprehensive understanding of technical tailwinds, operational ethos, and management philosophy that drive Spire. 

    • Chapters •

    00:01—Intro

    01:32—Sponsor

    02:09—Guest Intro

    03:43—How Joel was spacepilled…

    05:07—Spire's origins as a Kickstarter campaign 

    09:19—Reliability, uptime, and the 80/20 principle of being 

    12:04—How many satellites does Spire currently operate in space today?

    16:56—Agile development, vertical integration, operational tempo, and company culture

    18:55—AIS and ADS-B definitions 

    21:25—Can global identification of planes and ships only be done at scale from space? 

    23:33—Ukraine airspace closing + visuals of airspace data

    24:11—Are services like that Elon Jet tracker using Spire data? 

    26:56—Kepler Ad Break

    27:45—Spire as a “space to cloud” analytics provider

    30:25—How does Earth intelligence fit into all of this?

    33:01—The business model of “space as a service”

    37:10—Conceptualizing Spire as a tech platform

    40:32—What are your customers doing in space?

    43:48—Customers looking to launch constellations

    46:11—What happens if a Space Services customer goes belly up? 

    47:10—Do you and the team pay attention to your stock prices every day or phase it out?

    49:37—What’s the TAM of people, theoretically, of people trying to fly payloads on satellites? 

    52:42—Anything else before lightning round?

    54:07—Rapid fire questions + close of show 

    • Show notes •

    Spire — https://spire.com/

    Spire Twitter — https://twitter.com/spireglobal

    Recent earnings — https://payloadspace.com/spire-q4-2022/

    Space Services — https://payloadspace.com/spire-q4-2022/

    ADS-B data in leadup to Russia's invasion of Ukraine — https://payloadspace.com/six-months-ukraine-war/

    Ryan's socials — https://twitter.com/Ryandoofy / https://www.linkedin.com/in/rfduffy/

    Payload’s socials — https://twitter.com/payloadspace / https://www.linkedin.com/company/payloadspace

    Pathfinder archive — Watch: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL_uY3GaNf67hP-i6TRWF2n06xMv1kdkZ6

    Listen: https://pod.payloadspace.com/episodes

    Underserved People Need Free Access To Learn Digital, Social, And Business Skills | Redefining Society With Dr. Susan Birne-Stone and Busayo Odunlami

    Underserved People Need Free Access To Learn Digital, Social, And Business Skills | Redefining Society With Dr. Susan Birne-Stone and Busayo Odunlami

    Positive cultural and societal changes do not happen in a day, but they need to start somewhere, and indeed they do not happen by magic. Education is a key driver that can promote, facilitate, and speed up such changes.

    Contact of different societies, technological evolution, and geographical and ecological factors can initiate societal changes that can take quite some time. Still, sometimes we need to improve our communities faster, which is when movements and organizations can speed up the pace.

    In today's podcast, we talk about how providing underserved young people with free access to the digital, business, and social skills required to be successful in today's technology-driven global economy can change not only the lives of individuals but also bring much more significant positive consequences in our modern societies.

    Billion Strong Foundation
    To achieve economic independence, we believe there are a billion energetic, determined individuals that, if given a chance, will eagerly acquire the digital, social, and business skills necessary to succeed in today's ever-changing global environment.
    We want to inspire and uplift young individuals, across the globe, to build future products and services while creating new jobs and new businesses that serve their communities and society. We believe that our framework supports the transformation required for individuals to develop the entrepreneurial spirit required to exist in a technology-driven world.”

    ____________________________

    Co-Host
    Dr. Susan Birne-Stone
    Systems Psychotherapist, International Coach, Talk Show Host & Producer, Professor | Mentor at the Mentor Project
    On LinkedIn | https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-susan-birne-stone-phd-lcsw-62764a18/
    On Twitter | —
    Website | drsusanbirnestone.com

    Guest
    Busayo Odunlami 
    Global Business Transformation | Change & Culture Ninja | Board Member | M&A | Mentoring | VC 
    On LinkedIn | https://www.linkedin.com/in/busayo/
    On Twitter | —————
    ____________________________

    Resources 

    Billion Strong Foundation Website

    https://www.billionstrong.me

    ____________________________

    This Episode’s Sponsors

    Bugcrowd 👉 https://itspm.ag/itspbgcweb

    BlackCloak 👉 https://itspm.ag/itspbcweb

    ____________________________

    To see and hear more Redefining Society stories on ITSPmagazine, visit:
    https://www.itspmagazine.com/redefining-society

    Are you interested in sponsoring an ITSPmagazine Channel?
    👉 https://www.itspmagazine.com/podcast-series-sponsorships

    A Metaverse That Is Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible And Safe For All. Why Not? Seriously! | A Conversation With With Eve Logunova-Parker | Redefining Society Podcast With Marco Ciappelli

    A Metaverse That Is Diverse, Inclusive, Accessible And Safe For All. Why Not? Seriously! | A Conversation With With Eve Logunova-Parker | Redefining Society Podcast With Marco Ciappelli

    The Metaverse, VR, XR, and much of the social technology we are developing today can and should be used for good. We have an ample opportunity to use it for good or look back one day and regret we didn’t.

    In this conversation, we spoke about what is the driving force that is leading the commercialization of VR, XR, and the Metaverse, but also all the paths we could take to create a virtual world that doesn’t have to carry the bias we are trying to fight in the one where we live our daily life, for now. Instead, there is hope for diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and openness for all.

    About Eve
    Eve's life mission is to make technology more inclusive and accessible for people of all walks of life, with a special emphasis on building inclusive solutions by DeepTech companies themselves.  With data becoming every company’s best asset, Eve truly believes that AI ethics, Inclusion by design, diverse datasets as well as tech teams are vital in achieving progress toward a more inclusive workplace as well as society at large.

    About the Respect Project
    The Gallery "RESPECT" features stories of people of color through history and on a global scale. We invite everyone to come and learn about history, hurdles, learnings and achievements via the stories of inspiring black innovators, scientists, politicians, poets, singers, civil activists, peace makers, sportsmen, journalists, and creatives. The gallery is an open, free of charge initiative organized as a social project.
     

    ____________________________

    Guest
    Eve Logunova-Parker
    Founder and CEO at EVENNESS | XR, Metaverse, AI & Data Practitioner \\ Diversity & Inclusion Ambassador
    On LinkedIn | https://www.linkedin.com/in/evgenialogunova/
    On Twitter | https://twitter.com/EvennessRocks
    Personal Website: https://www.evgenia-logunova.com/

    ____________________________

    Resources

    The RESPECT Project
    https://spatial.io/s/Evenness-Gallery-RESPECT-620c2bccf99759000186ddb4?share=7730210879411683914

    Women in AI
    https://www.womeninai.co

    ____________________________

    This Episode’s Sponsors

    Bugcrowd 👉 https://itspm.ag/itspbgcweb

    BlackCloak 👉 https://itspm.ag/itspbcweb

    ____________________________

    To see and hear more Redefining Society stories on ITSPmagazine, visit:
    https://www.itspmagazine.com/redefining-society

    Are you interested in sponsoring an ITSPmagazine Channel?
    👉 https://www.itspmagazine.com/podcast-series-sponsorships

    Ukraine Invasion: Lessons On Cyber Warfare (WAR) And Its Impact On Humanity | A Conversation With Grant Gibson | Redefining Society With Marco Ciappelli

    Ukraine Invasion: Lessons On Cyber Warfare (WAR) And Its Impact On Humanity | A Conversation With Grant Gibson | Redefining Society With Marco Ciappelli

    Some say that nobody wants war, and yet here we are. They are different because technology has changed, but they still suck. Is there a clear distinction between cyber and kinetic warfare? Does it even matter? What can we learn about it from this war in Ukraine?

    Despite the distinction between different kinds of war for headlines and panel conversation, war is war. Under that horrible word, you can line up as many strategies, tools, and methodologies as you like, but once something is used as a weapon against others, it all sounds like war. In today’s conversation with Grant Gibson, we discuss what is happening in Ukraine and how what we are observing is unique, either in the techniques used or in how those are used. An underground cyberwar is going on, which is part of a larger war. Tinder reveals troop locations; amateur drones are taking part in the action discovering and helping to destroy vehicles on convoys, civilian hackers take up arms, and Microsoft and other tech companies play support roles. All the while, leaders try to strategize cyber protocols in wartime theaters.

    This will be a moment that defines cyber warfare — well, warfare.

    Spoiler alert, you can call war what you want; it is still something that shouldn’t exist — in any form.
    ____________________________

    Guest
    Grant Gibson
    CISO | News Contributor | CIBR Ready CyberSecurity Evangelist Working Group Member at National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) [@NISTcyber]
    On LinkedIn | https://www.linkedin.com/in/grantgibson1/
    On Twitter | https://twitter.com/gibsongrantm
    ____________________________

    Resources 

    ____________________________

    This Episode’s Sponsors

    Bugcrowd 👉 https://itspm.ag/itspbgcweb

    BlackCloak 👉 https://itspm.ag/itspbcweb

    ____________________________

    To see and hear more Redefining Society stories on ITSPmagazine, visit:
    https://www.itspmagazine.com/redefining-society

    Are you interested in sponsoring an ITSPmagazine Channel?
    👉 https://www.itspmagazine.com/podcast-series-sponsorships