BPC’s technology team is excited about the latest developments and trends in space and satellite policy. The rapidly advancing technology, low-Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites, has great promise for improving global connectivity and facilitating groundbreaking research. Our top reads, compiled below, include the latest coverage and intriguing stories about the space economy and how LEOs can provide connectivity lifelines. Enjoy!
By Space Foundation Editorial Team, Space Foundation
The Space Foundation calculated that the space economy hit $469 billion globally and grew by 9% from 2020 to 2021. According to the foundation, the money generated mostly came from the commercial sector, which has grown by 6.4% in revenue since 2020. The foundation also reported a record pace of successful launches in the first half of 2022, with 1,022 identified spacecraft placed in orbit, with 958 of them coming from the commercial sector.
By Matthew Weinzierl, Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury, Tarun Khanna, Alan MacCormack, and Brendan Rosseau, Harvard Business Review
This Harvard Business Review article identifies four ways to understand how opportunities in space can create value. 1) Data: GPS is a classic example of how data gathered from space about the Earth can create value for society. 2) Capabilities: Space characteristics that people or organizations can use for value creation, such as experimenting in microgravity environments for R&D. 3) Resources: Valuable space assets, including metals and minerals mined from asteroids. 4) Markets: The demand for goods and services spurred by the presence of people in space or servicing space tourism.
Jason Rainbow, Space News
The Federal Communications Commission, the agency responsible for much of the satellite industry’s regulation and licensing operations, proposed a framework that aims to enable the innovative use of terrestrial wireless spectrum, connecting smartphones to satellites and expanding coverage beyond the range of cell towers. The framework establishes ground rules for companies with LEO satellites looking to provide direct-to-device services using terrestrial spectrum offered by mobile partners. This groundbreaking news could be the first of many innovative initiatives to close wireless coverage gaps in rural and remote areas through supplemental coverage from space.
By Margaret Harding McGill, Axios
Harding McGill investigates promising trends for using LEO satellites for internet availability. No longer a distant concept, this technology is bringing important high-speed internet coverage to rural and hard-to-reach parts of the world. She specifically highlights recent examples of LEO constellations delivering internet lifelines to people in conflict zones or under repressive governments. Delivering internet to areas in crisis could improve internet freedom and thwart censorship, but Harding discusses the U.S. government’s lack of public internet infrastructure and funding to provide such security. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle introduced legislation last year to fund technology capable of expanding global internet access.
By Sandra Erwin, Space News
Erwin shares new research from the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the economic and regulatory barriers that hinder the U.S. industry’s competitive edge with Chinese technology. She describes the private sector’s need to offset the financial burdens of building and deploying LEO constellations with more flexible regulatory constraints. The FCC is acutely aware of the competitiveness issues and is working to provide the tools necessary to help the U.S. LEO satellite technology sector succeed. She explains that the FCC and Congress plan to create a space bureau and reform FCC licensing rules to help the government keep pace with the rapidly advancing technology.
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