That’s why SPACs have been so good for space IoT.
SPACs provide capital to these small startups along with technical and operational expertise. They act as long-term business partners.
According to Dennis, this new partnership is enabling companies to make the space IoT environment a reality. Without their support, these companies wouldn’t have the resources to continue their work.
- New networking technologies
- New manufacturing technologies
- New propulsion systems
- New satellite networks made up of micro and nanosatellites
These new technologies are transforming things like logistics, e-commerce, next-generation defense systems, and advanced air mobility (think flying taxis).
But the biggest transformation may be taking place outside our atmosphere.
Evolving Space-Based Markets
According to Dennis, the most important transformation in the space ecosystem will happen in low earth orbit.
Currently, there’s only one destination in low earth orbit: the International Space Station. But over the next decade, Dennis believes that number will grow exponentially to include things like space factories and space tourism spots.
And along with it, a whole new ecosystem will pop up connected by satellites and other communication systems. This space IoT will transform low earth orbit into the next big IoT ecosystem.
Dennis also sees other opportunities for smaller companies to enter the space IoT game:
- Launch Market: Smaller rockets are needed to transport a growing number of micro and nanosatellites and to reduce the cost to get to space.
- Satellite Design: 3D-printed satellites are becoming more prevalent at a cost and scale that small companies can achieve.
- Earth Observation: New reconnaissance, surveillance, and communication capabilities are cropping up driven by software companies operating on the new space-based network.
What's on the Horizon for Space Exploration
Back to the Moon
After the low earth orbit ecosystem is built out, Dennis says the next mission will be to return astronauts to the moon.
This time to stay.
NASA already has a program underway, called Artemis, that aims to launch the first mission in 2024. The main goal will be to create a lunar base that will make travel between the Earth and the Moon more commonplace.
Once a lunar base is established, it will serve as a gateway for deeper space exploration. Dennis sees two initial targets: asteroids and a manned mission to Mars.
Asteroids contain rare minerals. So, companies are looking at the prospect of mining asteroids for these materials — and perhaps other currently unknown resources — and returning them to Earth.
And it’s not only about mining asteroids, it’s also about space-based operations. Some companies have proposed finding asteroids that are rich in ice, harvesting that ice, and returning it to the moon as a source of water.
According to Dennis, the trick will be to do it at scale and in a way that is economically viable. So far, there aren’t any companies ready to go public in that sector.
3 Big Takeaways
- SPACs are helping smaller companies make the space IoT environment a reality
- Low-earth orbit will be the next big IoT ecosystem
- After the low-earth orbit ecosystem, companies will turn their attention to establishing a lunar base on the moon and using it as a gateway for deeper space exploration
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