New publication on Leveraging Commercial Space for Earth and Ocean Remote Sensing available

Artist illustration of Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) spacecraft. Credit: NASA.

The National Academies Press have posted a new publication titled Leveraging Commercial Space for Earth and Ocean Remote Sensing.

The study was the work of the The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee for the Assessment of Partnership Options for a Small Satellite System for Collecting Scientific Quality Oceanic and Coastal Data.

The study provided an independent assessment with the following Statement of Task:

  • What national missions might benefit in a substantial way from access to a small satellite data collection system and how might that mission depend on the frequency and geographic scope of the data collection? Those benefits might be defined broadly to include military, economic, scientific, educational, and environmental benefits.
  • What partnerships among industry, government, and academic institutions might be incentivized to develop the necessary space platform, system integration, launch, communications, test, data distribution, and maintenance functions?
  • Is the existing infrastructure sufficient to support the needed space platform development and manufacture, system integration, launch, communications, test, data distribution, and maintenance functions? What infrastructure components should be enhanced or created in order to reduce the timeline from idea to on orbit? Infrastructure is broadly defined to include industrial manufacturing capability, space system support structures, and communication-information systems.
  • What processes may be employed to enhance the technology development pipeline, standards development, and the identification and adoption of best practices?
  • What is the anticipated time line for the development of the required technology, infrastructure, and processes that will enable the development of the desired satellite systems?

In a webinar on the study the following Core and Crosscutting Findings were preseneted:

  • A New Space ecosystem is rapidly evolving and will happen with or without government participation.
  • The tremendous growth of the commercial space sector over the past decade has created new business models and had also fundamentally changed the opportunity landscape.
  • The Hybrid Space Architecture (HSA) represents a working framework for the government to leverage the use of commercial space to serve a broad range of information and intelligence needs.
  • By taking a strategic approach to acquisition, the government can add vitality and focus to the emerging New Space ecosystem by not only providing commercial growth opportunities but also aligning business investment to its future needs.
  • With appropriate acquisition strategies such as public-private partnerships, it is possible to benefit from faster and lower cost space business outcomes that are sustainable, trusteed, and achieved with acceptable risk.
  • Within the government, a broad set of both traditional and non-traditional users in both the military and civil space user community will greatly benefit from the growing ecosystem if they are appropriately enabled.
  • The oceanographic science community and by extension the broader Earth science community stands to directly benefit from New Space opportunities including new business approaches such as data buys.
  • In the near term, nascent New Space opportunities have opened the door to rapid and lower costs access to space for a broad range of users.
  • In the longer term, expected growth of the space ecosystem will open the door to rapid access and constellations as well as new approaches capable of serving a broad range of national interests.

The study is available to purchase in print form or you can download for free a PDF version. We’ve made available the PDF version below to read online or download. Note, NAP has released this study as a prepublication and is subject to editorial correction.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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