Feb 11, 2020 - Science

New company wants to transform the space industry through software

Sunrise from orbit
Sunrise from orbit. Photo: NASA

NewSpace Networks — which is emerging from stealth mode on Tuesday — will focus its efforts on making data collection and communication from space cheaper and easier through software, not engineering new satellites and rockets.

Why it matters: The price of launching satellites to orbit has gotten cheaper in recent years, but it still costs millions, if not billions, of dollars for companies to deploy and operate their own constellations of satellites.

  • "What we want to do is take what's being deployed, lever it up to make it more efficient and more usable," NewSpace Networks co-founder Robert Cleave told Axios.
  • Cleave and his co-founders all worked for Vector, a small launch company that suspended operations and filed for bankruptcy last year.

How it works: At the moment, getting data back from satellites is a cumbersome process involving ground stations, satellite links and an extensive infrastructure of fiber-optic cables and antennas on Earth.

  • NewSpace Networks hopes to work with satellite and ground operators to make their networks run more efficiently and find ways to help them stand out in an increasingly crowded market.
  • The company wants to create tools that will move information through networks of communications satellites from one point to another as quickly as possible, even in remote locations like in the ocean or in the Arctic.
  • They're also looking to more efficiently process data, saving time, money and opening the door to using information from orbit in new ways.
  • NewSpace Networks is now looking to raise $200 million to put toward these efforts.

But, but, but: The company's founders say it likely won't be easy to convince the old guard of the space industry that this kind of innovation is useful and necessary.

  • "It's to its detriment as an industry to not embrace new technologies," co-founder Shaun Coleman told Axios. "I think probably our single biggest issue is getting the industry to adopt and embrace good, new technology."

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