The development of satellite technologies is gaining momentum with help from private investors, as many industrial companies see its revenue opportunities. Counting cars in retail store parking lots from space, for example, provides a competitive edge for investors who evaluate consumer trends. Here are some of the ways enterprises benefit from embracing satellite imagery in their business models.
Investing in Space Development
At one time, satellite technologies were funded strictly by governments for developing military and civilian projects, which took long blocks of time to achieve. Development on the Global Positioning System (GPS) began in 1973 but wasn't unleashed to the public until 2000. This lengthy development could be attributed to government budget constraints. NASA's budget has declined as a percentage of the federal budget since the sixties.
Large corporations do not face the same financial constraints as governments that must divide funds among a multitude of emergencies, social programs and corporate subsidies. The share of investors entering space development has surged this century due to transmission advancements and lower costs of satellites. This interest from the private sector has culminated in satellite constellations towering above earth.
These clusters of satellites were made possible from enterprises pooling resources. Increasing private funding has helped lower the costs of launching and operating satellites. The growth of satellite constellations now creates a competitive environment for businesses to build assets in space. Satellites are extremely useful for photographing the earth and monitoring activity. It opens up a market for selling high-quality images from space.
Space truly is the final frontier for financial interests. It's a barely tapped goldmine that solves many problems people on earth cannot. Many well-funded companies see the potential for skyrocketing profits from the combination of IoT devices, AI, automation and advanced satellite imaging systems.
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Analyzing Satellite Imagery
One way a company can profit off the current space race is to get low-cost images from satellites and sell them to people who otherwise don't have access to them. Businesses can get useful insights on markets by studying aerials. Agricultural firms can use the data to determine which areas enjoy the best crop development in the age of climate change.
Analysis of satellite imagery is emerging as an industry that can help a wide range of businesses. The addition of artificial intelligence (AI) such as machine learning technology can make this analysis more comprehensive and powerful. This system can identify aircraft and other objects in the sky. In the future, the sky will be populated with delivery drones that are tracked by satellite. There will also be a need to track construction projects from cameras in space.
Important Applications of Satellite Imagery
Today's satellites serve many purposes. Here are some of the most game-changing uses of satellite imagery:
- Urban planning - With urban expansion comes environment protection issues, such as preserving parks and other areas of scenic beauty. Green preservation improves quality of life for a community. So satellite imagery can play a huge role in helping urban planners identify areas for preservation and development. It will help them monitor landscapes, gardens and forests to gauge wildlife and other aspects of the environment.
- Tracking environmental elements - Cleaning and protecting the environment will become more efficient with the help of satellite images. Waste management companies will be able to scan areas for abandoned trash. Recyclers can use satellite images to locate scattered materials. The more trash is removed from communities, the more it will raise morale and beautify cities. It can also help local officials evaluate waste management sites. Satellites will further provide tracking of carbon emissions.
- Infrastructure monitoring - There are various facets of modern infrastructure that can be measured and monitored with satellite technology. Railway construction contractors can benefit in several ways studying aerial photos from different angles. Satellite imagery will be helpful for any type of land development, such as surveying land for existing vegetation and conditions for restoring vegetation. Adding machine learning software and automation to the equation creates an even more powerful resource for forecasting land development.
- Forecasting natural disasters - Another huge contribution satellite imagery will offer society is that it will help predict natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes. Satellite cameras integrated with machine learning software can provide alerts on developing climate events. Improved forecasting of disasters will help airlines and railways with scheduling and routing. Rescue teams will be better prepared to overcome the challenges posed by disasters.
- Airport mapping - The layout of a new airport can be designed with greater precision with the help of satellite, AI and machine learning technology. These images can further be used for 3D modeling of the airspace and terrain. Airport facility mapping will improve immensely with satellite images providing accurate maps for taxi and shuttle drivers. These maps will be particularly useful for training new drivers the route to follow. More detailed airport mapping will help identify environmental problems.
Where Commercial Satellite Imaging is Headed
The commercial satellite imaging market is expected to reach over $7 billion by 2027, according to Mordor Intelligence. This growth will impact several industries such as military, construction, logistics, energy and forestry. Demand for imagery-based data will grow, creating new revenue opportunities for space agencies. Governments beyond the United States, such as Australia, also support the development of commercial space projects.
Satellite images are useful to companies that secure energy resources, as well as businesses that engage in mapping. They can also be valuable during a crisis, such as for rescue teams to locate people in disaster areas. Forestry officials can use the images to locate forest fires faster and mitigate damage. Various defense initiatives will contribute to the market growth of satellite imagery, as it will help track enemies and threats through geospatial mapping. Ultimately, it will speed up military decisions.
The reason North America is expected to be the fastest growing market is because it has already invested the most in satellite research and development. The United States currently controls over half of the 4,852 active satellites orbiting the earth, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists. Defense organizations investing in surveillance technology have played a key role in the expansion of satellites.
American aerospace company SpaceX currently accounts for nearly a quarter of all space launches. Other U.S. firms that have secured government space contracts include BlackSky, Maxar Technologies and Planet Labs. Some of the leaders in satellite imagery include L3Harris Technologies, Galileo Group and SpaceKnow. Not only are foreign governments and corporations becoming more interested in space commerce, so are consumers.
The commercialization of images from space is already underway, thanks to increasing private investment in satellite technologies. While most of the players in this field are large organizations, satellite constellations are growing to facilitate a diverse range of businesses that want to capitalize on space commerce opportunities.