How to Do Business in Space?

The democratization of space is a growing phenomenon, involving the introduction of new actors and business opportunities. Just as the Internet was once the breeding ground for hundreds of startups, today space is the ecosystem providing a background for countless enterprising ideas.

Large companies and startups are using space in order to do business on Earth as it enables them to offer new services or generate key data for processing and commercialization purposes.

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What is New Space?

The launch of Sputnik 1 marked the first victory in the conquest of space, and for over half a century increasingly larger and more expensive satellites designed to last for 40 years were launched. However, space was reserved for major corporations dependent on government and military bodies.

Today the scenario has changed radically: a new wave of colonization is being carried out by small, fast and inexpensive systems that is enabling companies that need space in order to reach their objectives and expand their services to gain a foothold in this area. Hundreds of startups are benefiting from the savings involved in the new nanosatellite constellations.

This nanosatellite revolution requires a new spatial ecosystem suitable for its constellations: a brand new productive environment that includes stations, satellite control and monitoring software, specialized subsystems, solar panels, batteries and rockets, etc.

Now more than ever, space is seen as a commercial enterprise. Large, medium-sized and startup businesses are all heading towards the final business frontier.


Nanosatellite Launch

A Fast and Flexible Approach

Before the emergence of New Space, the potential was not exploited due to economic and time constraints. The business opportunities arising from this ‘New Space’ stem from a model based on three key concepts:

CubeSat & Nanosatellite Market Forecast

Satellites are no longer the exclusive domain of rival superpowers, but instead a business opportunity based on the falling technology costs.  

During 2022, more than 330 satellites were launched and an upward trend is expected in the short to medium term. Emerging operators, incoming funding and new applications available to companies, public bodies and final users explain the continued growth of the sector in recent years.

New Space is not only favouring the existence of more CubeSats in orbit, but also their use for commercial purposes. Whilst between 2013 and 2017 almost half the nanosatellites were launched on military or civil missions, and the remaining half for business purposes, the outlook for the next few years is radically different. By 2023, up to 66% of nanosatellite operations in orbit are expected to have a space business objective.

NanoSats Forecast 2023

Source: ‘Nanosatellite launches with forecasts’, a chart by Nanosats Database

Business Opportunities in Space

Space presents the final challenge for humankind, yet in the world of business, New Space has already taken shape, offering vast future potential. Nanosatellites allow for the collection, transmission and assessment of all kinds of data. Here at Alén Space we have developed a working method which caters fully for the objectives and goals set by each company and sector.

The launch of nanosatellite constellations offers a global service that can be accessed 24 hours a day. Furthermore, the nature of this system means that loss of one nanosatellite would not be catastrophic, as the service would remain active thanks to the rest of the constellation.

Short development times can also guarantee replacement in less than a year.

Space is the ideal environment for the ongoing appearance of new business opportunities for entrepreneurs who know that getting there first can make the difference between success and failure. The future possibilities are endless, yet many nanosatellite applications have already been put into practice, creating added advantages and boosting profits for all kinds of companies and sectors.

Nanosatellites, the Forefront of Space IoT

The Internet of Things (IoT) is changing multiple aspects of our daily lives, and CubeSats are playing a key role in this revolution. They consist of constellations of small satellites in space and various sensors on Earth capable of generating vast amounts of data that are highly relevant for widely-differing areas, from traffic monitoring to the optimisation of machinery and production facilities, or even autonomous transport operations.

Earth Observation with CubeSats

Earth observation nanosatellites can send almost daily images from anywhere in the world. This type of CubeSat provides valuable data for sectors such as agriculture, mining or the oil industry. It also plays a key role in citizen security and environmental conservation.

Asset Tracking via Satellite

Nanosatellites allow for the precise tracking and geolocation of all types of assets in real time. Unlike land navigation systems, CubeSats can identify an object wherever it may be in the world – either in remote locations or at sea.

If it can’t be tracked, it can’t be controlled. Generally speaking, using a constellation of nanosatellites to track assets can be used for a wide range of needs. We can’t even begin to imagine the myriad applications this will offer in the future, but here are just a few of those that are here and now:

ADS-B System

ADS-B System

Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) allows for precise location of aircraft without the need for land radar signals. Aircraft transmit their GPS position, although occasionally the land reception of these messages is not possible, especially when the aircraft are flying mid ocean. A nanosatellite constellation can act as an intermediary, transmitting these messages and guaranteeing the tracking of passengers and freight.

Ship Tracking

Ship Tracking

Communication between nanosatellites and ships allows for the real time tracking of their exact position in order to control the location and status of cargo. Ship tracking improves security and can also be used to manage routes and rescue operations, as well as avoiding collisions. This tool can also contribute to prevent piracy, detect illegal fishing or to carry out other environmental surveillance activities.

Fleet Management

Fleet Management

Fleet management systems are a practical way of tracking goods and passenger carriers. They are also useful for companies whose activities require the use of several vehicles or for Public Administration fleets. The data collected by nanosatellites allows for the precise tracking of each vehicle, as well as helping to take decisions aimed at boosting fleet productivity.

SIGINT (Signals Intelligence)

Nanosatellites can also detect the signals generated by third parties. These small satellites can tune into certain frequency bands, identify broadcasts from Earth and space and analyse the electromagnetic spectrum of these frequency bands. They can be used to record unauthorised broadcasts, detect interferences and locate their origin. Even encrypted broadcasts can be geolocated, providing details of their modulation type and the areas they may be related to.

Consequently, in the event of a natural disaster, the nanosatellites will have prior information about impact levels and the most affected areas, thereby facilitating more effective rescue and relief work.

Now that you know the possibilities of space business, find out what offers Alén Space for CubeSats projects