Technology

No, you don’t need a rocket scientist

A common misconception is that space has nothing to do with your business or if it does, it requires extra-terrestrial skills, writes Pekka Pekkala.

“We need a rocket to do that” used to be the statement that would kill any business discussion or negotiation. Space sounded expensive, far away and difficult, requiring the skillset of the proverbial “rocket scientist”. However, with the arrival of small cubesats (and the reusable rockets that are just around the corner), satellites and their sensors are becoming just another one of your network-enabled devices.

Satellites will connect sensors to your existing business system from places or properties that were previously not available — at least, not without a seven-figure investment. From an IT-ecosystem perspective, they are just sensors, feeding data to your business intelligence loop. It is the Internet of Things, but in space.

Some sensors provide data via or from satellites, and others from the factory floor or customer actions. As a business owner, you gather this data and process it to make better decisions. Adding space or a satellite does not make any business better, but it can open up a whole new view on how you run your daily operations, maintenance and customer care.

Nanosatellites such as cubesats are limited in their capabilities when compared to traditional small satellites, but you can still do a multitude of different things with them. For example, if you need to monitor a vast area of land or water, such as ocean maritime traffic, forget low-flying aircraft like helicopters or planes. Cubesats can do the work for you, for less money and without replacement crews or scheduled maintenance. Sometimes you need to take very large measurements—such as how much carbon dioxide the Costa Rican rainforest captures each day or map out the icebergs at the Arctic—well, nanosatellites are the answer.

Comparing space-grade technology to ordinary ground-based sensors might sound a little bit far-fetched, but space technology — like all technology in general — is shrinking in terms of both size and price. Launching and maintaining a satellite will cost a fraction of what it used to. A classic car-sized small satellite costs at least a million dollars per month and takes typically ten years to develop. A cubesat can be built in a year and the cost might run as low as EUR 15,000 a month. Suddenly, space technology becomes a financially viable solution for any business, not just for the ones that have traditionally operated in the space industry.

This is one of the reasons why Reaktor decided to go into space: when the cost and time needed for development decrease, a relatively small company like Reaktor, with 350 senior developers, can provide full solutions—even for space.

More information about Reaktor Space here.