A much faster pace of innovation currently taking place in the space industry is driving a “new space revolution”, Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT) executive VP Arnulf Kjeldsen has said.
Speaking during the 2021 SpaceOps Conference, on the topic of Commercial Ground Stations: New Space and Traditional Space, he said the critical factors in the latest space technology developments were the time it takes to get the solutions to market and the price, with a focus on cost reductions.
Five years ago, the company launched its KSATlite product, and at the time, Kjeldsen said, it was already evident that the cost of the service would have to be very different from what KSAT was used to at that point in time with the older and more traditional systems.
However, he added that, with shorter timelines to develop and market products, as well as trying to keep costs down on the satellite production side, comes an appetite from manufacturers to take risks, which could pay off if they get it right.
Nonetheless, Kjeldsen said that once a satellite was in orbit and delivering results, proficiency and reliability were more important than size.
In terms of satellite volume, he added that a recent trend was the move away from single satellites and demonstrators, towards satellite constellations – many satellites grouped together.
In this regard, Kjeldsen said the volume of daily satellite contacts had more than quadrupled since 2007, while KSAT had managed to double its KSATlite satellite passes of ground stations within a single year to meet the growing demand from users.
Further, in bringing KSATlite to market, the company had learned to focus on the standardisation and interoperability of its solutions. “To meet the timelines that are expected and to meet the cost reduction you have to standardise and need to be interoperable in your network,” he said.
As for virtualised architecture, Kjeldsen said there was a fast growing need to cloud storage and computing, with both private on-premises cloud-based solutions, as well as public cloud-based infrastructure needing to be drawn upon too fully make use of visualised architecture.
In addition to this, he said software was an important part of processing for service management and network enhancement.
Another important component with keeping pace with current trends wa scalability, said Kjeldsen. “You can maybe achieve having a great solution which might have been undertaken fast and with a low cost, but if it cannot scale then there will be a problem.”
To be scalable requires more satellites and ground antenna, to which KSAT is building 34 new antennas for its network, both being polar and mid-latitude stations to increase its scalability.
Looking ahead, he said it was important for all role-players in the space industry to continue simplifying and improving access to satellite data.
“We need to improve all the way from ordering to the commercial side, and even to complete end-to-end downlink processing and analysing data.”
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