For decades space has been the playplace for world powers, but the advent of (relatively) cheap and frequent rocket launches has opened it up for new business opportunities. But it’s still hard as hell, as early adopters of this orbital economy Tess Hatch of Bessemer Ventures, Swarm’s Sara Spangelo, and OneWeb’s Adrian Steckel can attest. They’ll be on the Extra Crunch stage at Disrupt SF 2019 on October 3rd at 1:40 PM.
Spangelo and Steckel are in the midst of launching what have been termed “mega-constellations,” collections of hundreds or thousands of satellites offering a coordinated service, in their cases global connectivity. These efforts are only possible with the new launch economy, and came hot on its heels, showing there’s no reason to wait to put new plans in action.
But such constellations bring their own challenges. Just from an orbital logistics point of view, launching a single satellite so that it enters a unique and predictable trajectory is hard enough; launching a dozen or a hundred at once is more difficult by far. And after launch, how will those satellites be tracked? How will they communicate to the surface and each other? What about the growing risk of collisions?
On top of that are more terrestrial, but no less crucial, questions: What services can be made available from orbit? What’s a reasonable amount to spend on them? How will they compete with and accommodate one another? Whose regulations will they follow?
These latter questions are among those that must also be answered by investors like Hatch, who is familiar with both the technical and capital side of the burgeoning space industry (and of course the technical side of the capital side). Space ventures can be extremely expensive and high-risk, but to get your foot in the door at this stage could be the start of a billion-dollar advantage a couple years down the line.
If you’re planning on getting involved with the new space economy, or are just curious about it, join us for an extended discussion and Q&A on the 3rd.