Why data is the next frontier for space startups

BlackSky imaging platform
BlackSky’s imagery platform incorporates views from multiple satellites to help energy companies monitor oil and gas storage sites. (BlackSky / Spaceflight Industries)

Thanks to incredibly shrinking satellites and launch costs, thousands of satellites are sending down streams of data about the state of our planet. But how much effort is going into making sense of all that data?

Not enough, leaders of the commercial space industry said this week at The Economist’s “New Space Age” conference in Seattle. And therein lies an opportunity.

The data gap is so wide that former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, who is now executive director of the Air Line Pilots Association, half-jokingly suggested that the space agency could hold up on launching new Earth science missions and focus instead on analyzing the results from existing missions.

So many commercial ventures are getting into Earth observation, remote sensing and telecommunications that the U.S. government will have to think twice about how it adds still more satellites to the mix.

“If the government builds another imaging or communications satellite, they are stealing from the American people, and our future,” Garver said Nov. 9 during a panel discussion at Seattle’s Museum of Flight.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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