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NASA Virtual Symposium – Exploring the Rise of Commercial Space (Mar 21)

Steve Lee, our CEO, was invited to be the keynote speaker for NASA Virtual Symposium “Exploring the Rise of Commercial Space”. He talked about the birth of Astrosat and where we came from, our early start winning innovation awards, and setting our ethos – “Every Earth problem has a space solution”. He then talked more widely about Earth Observation (EO), mistakes the space industry has made and potential solutions to democratise EO and the space industry to the world.

Looking back on his experience, Steve told the attendees that it took every aspect of his creative personality to turn his, and our backs to the space sector, and look to other industries. Steve commented, “In the early days we did not work just within the space industry. We talked to many other industries, from energy to marine, so that we could find out what their problems were to then apply a space solutions to them. We have bootstrapped our way into EO, having to pay the bills with real world projects.”

He went on to say, “The Space industry can be appealing, but EO does not have the same sex appeal as hardware building or rocket launching. EO, however, is the foundational aspect of the commercialising of the space industry. EO is the entry point to democratising the space sector in order to bring in more interest and value to the industry. The rest of the space sector sees EO as far removed, while actually it’s at the heart of the sector. It’s the space industry’s foundation. A few years ago Europe had a Space Data strategy, focusing on elements of Earth Observation, which is now getting less interest because EO has not had the time to mature properly, and now the more sexy elements like rocket launching have gained much more interest.”

Steve told the attendees that Astrosat is an innovative company. We have loads of ideas for EO products, but also upstream applications for in-orbit work. He added, “Before we do these we need to be profitable in EO. EO has failed to take off so far because, as a foundational part of the industry, EO companies don’t talk to organisations outside of the space industry. We also need to stop overpricing for our services. And finally, EO providers try to do three jobs at once: in orbit operations, data analytics and sales. This is very hard to manage. Only a few can do this well – Spire and Planet are examples. These very different work streams (in-orbit, data analytics and sales) are all related and important, but they can’t be add-ons.”

Steve ended the talk by telling the attendees that Astrosat takes on as many challenges as possible. He added, “There are three ways to start selling space related products to other industries:

  1. Find a law which binds corporations to doing something
  2. Offer efficiency savings
  3. Give them a product to resell

We will meet everyone who wants to talk to us, and we will add a space element to solving their problem.”

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-to-host-virtual-symposium-exploring-rise-of-commercial-space

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