Tech Trend: Rent a Satellite from These Companies

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

This is an important trend: imagine having a birds-eye view of your home, commute, company, supply chain  or competitors.

Recently I gave you the What, Why & How of Satellites as a Service. Now, I’m going to break down the current players in the space – pun intended.

Quick recap – You can now “own” your own satellite with Satellites as a Service. Rent space on someone else’s satellite. The sharing/collaborative economy has gone to space. 

It’s key we understand this trend, as this data-service will provide incredible troves of information about your customers and competitors — and they will get access to this information, too. 

Ground Station
Key ExecutivesChris Boshuizen, Robbie Schingler, Will Marshall (all ex-NASA)Shayn HawthorneJeroen Cappaert, Joel Spark, Peter Platzer
Funding$351MPrivate funding$159M
# Employees430Unknown101-250
Key FactsBusiness model: Subscription services formonitoring, tasking, analytics, imagery
140 satellites in orbit (deployed over 350 since 2013)30 ground stations30,000 users400 customers40+ countriesMaintains a 7+ petabyte imagery archive
Business model: Control satellite communications, process data

2 ground stations live10 more ground stations by end of 2019Expects to lower cost of satellite control services by 80%
Business model: Space to cloud data & analytics, orbital services, visualization

84 satellites in orbit30+ active ground stationsFocus on tracking global weather, ships and airplanes

So, who’s doing what?

Planet is different than the others because they provide universal access to imagery of the entire planet. They are “using space to help life on earth.” Their earth-imaging satellites have successfully mapped the entire planet. 

You can access their imagery through different products: Global Monitoring (daily, monthly, quarterly), Tasking – requesting specific actions, or Analytics – where the imagery is turned into insights, for example for Roads, Buildings and Vessels.

The industries they focus on include Agriculture, Defense & Intelligence, Energy & Infrastructure, Insurance and Maritime. Their archive goes back to 2009. 

Amazon’s AWS Ground Station just went live at the end of May. Unlike Planet, Ground Station offers on-demand satellite access where you can control satellite communications and scale your own operations without managing your own ground station infrastructure. 

It is satellite operators that are using the ground station service. Currently, they run their own ground stations. But, this service will provide faster speeds at lower costs. This allows operators to access data in near real-time. They control their satellite through the ground station, then downlink data from their satellite to the ground station, then process the data on their cloud storage and computing services. 

Amazon’s Ground Station service offers pay-as-you-go access to its own global network of antennas, aiming to reduce ground station expenses to startups by up to 80 percent. The plan is to also reduce the time it takes for satellite data to be processed, analyzed, and forwarded to operators and their clients because the stations will be co-located with Amazon’s data centers. 

The current AWS Ground Station customers include the leading satellite operators: Capella Space, D-Orbit, Maxar Technologies, Myriota, NSLComm, Open Cosmos, Spire and Thales Alenia Space.

Spire focuses primarily on tracking global weather, ships and airplanes. They have 80+ CubeSats in orbit. Spire’s focus is on providing data – identifying, tracking and predicting the movement of the world’s resources and weather systems so that businesses and governments can make smart decisions.

Honorable mentions: Capella Space and BlackSky.

Satellites as a service is no longer a ‘some day’ wish. The data and visualization is here today for your business. Keep your eyes on these players as they continue to push the boundaries of outer space.