May 12, 2020 - Science

A new way to control satellites

HIVE
HIVE. Photo: Hypergiant Industries

A new tool for satellite operators could allow one ground controller to keep an eye on dozens of spacecraft at once.

Why it matters: Today, satellite operators are only able to control three to five satellites at a time. With potential mega-constellations of hundreds or thousands of satellites coming online, companies and governments will likely need to find ways to scale up their operations rapidly.

  • The new tool called Hyper Intelligent Vehicle Enhancement (HIVE) from Hypergiant Industries aims to make satellite operation more flexible and able to respond to crises like the coronavirus pandemic.

How it works: According to Hypergiant, HIVE software can be used on top of existing platforms to streamline them and make them remotely operable using tablets or phones.

  • "This software is built to reduce the cost of operations, support nominal and safe manned and unmanned spaceflight operations, and decrease training time while increasing productivity for the satellite operators of tomorrow," Hypergiant founder Ben Lamm told Axios. "In essence, it is satellite command and control in the palm of your hand."
  • Hypergiant also hopes to incorporate social media feeds and FEMA databases into the tool to alert operators when a major event like an earthquake or other disaster occurs to help people make decisions about where to task their satellites to look.
  • "We want people to be able to operate their entire constellation from their phones or tablets while in the field," Lamm added.

What's next: The Air Force has already signed on to use the tool, according to Hypergiant, and the company is in talks with other agencies and commercial entities as well.

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