Earth Observation – Market Trends & Emerging Technology

This Earth Observation workshop is split into two half days and has been established to provide a meeting point for smallsat operators, vendors and manufacturers that addresses new challenges in observation, geo-spatial data analysis, representation, processing, visualization, sharing and managing in regard to all aspects of earth observation and data analysis. What is the current state of earth observations? What trends are there in big data analytics and what are the new breakthroughs in earth observations and applications?


Part One – February 5th, Morning – On Orbit Considerations

9:00 am – 12:30 pm 

What is the future of the observation market in terms of technology, platforms, standards and services? From the many applications such as forecasting weather, mapping, tracking biodiversity and wildlife trends, measuring land-use change (such as deforestation), urban development, monitoring and responding to natural disasters, managing natural resources, such as energy, freshwater and agriculture, addressing public health, maritime safety and lastly but very importantly military observation and monitoring, smallsats provide an opportunity to observe our planet in considerable detail. What smallsats bring to these marketplaces will be discussed in detail.   Given that the four major players at the moment, Planet, DigitalGlobe, Spire and BlackSky, are constellations, in what applications are constellations essential.   What are the useful functions that independent smaller observation platforms can serve?   What are the main observation operators’ market share by vertical and by region and how will pricing of imagery evolve by type and by resolution? What model for data purchase will dominate and how are downstream players changing the way imagery is bought and sold?


Part Two – February 5th, Afternoon – Data Processing and Analysis

1:30 pm – 5:00 pm 

Geospatial Data is being produced at a prodigious pace. Rendering reams of data into a form that can be sold will be a deal maker/breaker. The focus on how data is received, then improved in post-processing to meet standards is very important. For instance the application of satellite data to weather analysis with numerical weather prediction is not without problems. There will be discussion on the latest in change detection algorithms and how to manipulate data from SmallSats and other big data sources with “Artificial Intelligence” and “Machine Learning”. Numerous large-area, multiple image-based possibilities exist and small satellites are ideally suited to provide fast accurate data on an almost real time basis. The objective of this workshop is to review and assess the type of data received and to cover classification approaches. The goal is to also identify the best techniques that are available to derive actionable insights for decision clarity. We will examine the economies involved not only in gathering this data but what the market will pay for the information. What is the market size of data, value-added services, information products, and Big Data analytics by vertical, region, and resolution? Which markets are drawing high resolution SAR imagery users? In what ways can the same data be sold to different customers.

SmallSat Financial Considerations

February 5th, Afternoon

1:30 pm – 5:00 pm 

The collision of finance and technology has produced both turbulent markets and spectacular innovations. Disruptive innovations create new markets. Who has bought, who will buy, and what will they pay? What are the most important criteria investors look for in choosing ventures to fund? Does private equity activity or debt financing play much of a role in funding SmallSat operations and what effect does this have on management behavior?

Investment in small satellite ventures originates from a variety of avenues including angel investors, venture funds, private equity firms, corporations, commercial banks, government and public markets. How do the varying demands of each of these sources of finance affect small satellite operations and planning? What are their expected returns and financing terms

The focus will be on different financial models and how operations including the overall positioning, level of vertical integration and cooperation with other industry stakeholders add to the value chain. What is the optimal way to secure capital for the startup phase of a SmallSat venture?

Beyond the first funding round, how will investors approach adding capital to a maturing venture? What is the past and present performance of the sector and what are the current and expected trends for industry consolidation and M&A transactions?

This workshop will also discuss the many nuances of pricing in the industry today, including developments of contract length, bargaining power of key customers, and most importantly, the bottom line of how much is being paid per MHz/Mbps, and how this has evolved. We aim to pry open the industry's most closely-guarded secrets just a little bit to shed light on the most fundamental financial metric of any industry – what is the product or service worth.


COTS, 3D-Printing and Innovative Next Generation Technology in Small Satellites

February 5th, Morning

9:00 am – 12:30 pm 

The use of selected Electrical, Electronic, and Electromechanical (EEE) commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components in smallsat applications and corresponding COTS ground systems is slowly expanding – maybe too slowly – and not free of myths. It is imperative to be aware of the pitfalls posed by these myths to reach a decision whether to use COTS parts in a specific application. While the significant factors are different on the satellite vs the ground system, both come with trade-offs and benefits that need to be considered.

A space-qualified component, even in military specification terms is not necessarily suitable for use in space applications, unless it meets the intended application requirements. The benefits of using selected COTS components are obvious: advanced technologies, higher integration, proven performance, better size, weight, and power consumption achievements etc. On the ground, the trade-offs tend to be whether to make or buy a COTS capability. Cost is a key factor, but often the future costs of upgrading and maintaining the system are ignored. Outdated standards, innovation-repressing culture, and bureaucracy (e.g., requirements for too much documentation and paperwork) are just a few factors that slow industry development. Redundancy, if found necessary, is a good practical solution for lowering the probability of system failures. However, it has its limitations and is not as necessary in ground based COTS systems.


SmallSat Insurance – Facts, Considerations and Trends

February 5th, Afternoon

1:30 am – 5:00 pm 

Space insurance is the third largest program cost, after the satellite and launch services. Over the next five years, all major launch vehicles will be retired or replaced, and numerous new vehicles will come online. With the explosion of the SmallSat market and entrance of numerous newer, less proven launch providers, the complexity of variables is larger than ever before. What is covered in your space insurance, and how much do uncovered categories (i.e. nuclear terrorism) matter? For your category of satellite, of the approximate 40 space insurance companies worldwide, what is most important for you to consider in choosing a provider? Considerations like satellite lifespan, chosen launch provider, post-separation variables, and others will be discussed in detail. How to lower your cost and maximize your coverage by fully understanding underwriting criteria is of utmost importance. While rates are decreasing across the market, risk is increasing. What is the reasoning for this, and what factors will affect the market moving forward?

Regulatory Overview & Legal Matters

February 5th, Morning

9:00 am – 12:30 pm 

What is required for FCC authorizations or NOAA licenses or do you need an FAA permit? Are you in compliance with export control or ITAR regulations? Will you first seek an FCC experimental license as a proof of concept? Have you planned sufficient time to obtain the necessary regulatory authorizations before your scheduled launch? Have you considered that FCC satellite application fees may cost up to $450,000 and require the posting of a performance bond in the millions of dollars?

The ITU (International Telecommunications Union) has multiple regulations and resolutions that need adherence. Do you have questions regarding spectrum requirements, telemetry, tracking and command requirements, current practices and procedures, orbital debris matters or other ITU regulations?

This workshop will examine the role of the ITU in coordinating the global use of the radiofrequency spectrum. It will examine the concept of harmful interference and the different methods of sharing spectrum and orbital locations. It will also detail the role of national administrations as representatives of member states in requesting the use of frequencies for satellite communications, in establishing national regulatory frameworks and in controlling the delivery of services through national licensing arrangements.

Please join Tony Lin leading this in-depth workshop designed to address basic regulatory issues encountered by smallsat startups and best practices to deal with them. Tony is an experienced satellite practitioner and has assisted a number of smallsat companies in navigating the regulatory environment and successfully deploying their systems.
Please join Tony leading this informal workshop designed to address basic regulatory issues encountered by smallsat startups and best practices to deal with them. Tony is an experienced satellite practitioner and has assisted a number of smallsat companies in navigating the regulatory environment and successfully deploying their systems.