Re: Still A "New Era In Space Commercialization"?
On Thu, 17 Dec 1998 19:03:42 -0600 "Dejan Bajic" <adastra@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>daily news from the frontier
>Solar Aircraft One Step Closer To Commercial Satellite Substitute
>Monrovia - December 17, 1998 - AeroVironment's unmanned solar-powered
>aircraft technology is one step closer to becoming a low-cost, flexible,
>alternative satellite platform for telecommunications and other
>Perhaps all the talk about a "new era" in space commercialization were
>premature? In that, all this was based on continued expected demand for
>satellites, thereupon leading to "emerging innovative launch vehicles"
>to lower launch costs, etc.
>So does this "new way" necessarily make the need for satellites no
>longer of any significance (i.e., demand dries up) no more need for new
>launch vehicles, or for that matter any other ventures in space which
>would of piggybacked on the "expected" development of new launch
>Any thoughts on any of this would be appreciated.
It's important to distinguish the markets being served by the aerial
communications platforms and the LEO constellation satellites.
The aerial communications platforms are being designed to supplement
the bandwidth available in densely populated areas, such as cities.
This is because the aerial platforms, by their nature, are confined
to a small "footprint" of land with which they can communicate. It
may be cheaper to add bandwidth with the aerial platforms and low
power antennas than to add bandwidth with landlines or high power
antennas needed to reach GeoSats.
The LEO constellations, in contrast, have a global "footprint" and
thus hold out the promise of universal service to those areas
of the world where the population density is too low to economically
support a local communications infrastructure. They will not be
high bandwidth connections but will at least offer some service where
connections are non-existant or limited. They will not used in
populated areas as they would be too expensive. In fact, the Iridium phones
will automatically interface with ground-based cellular systems when
they come into range.
So these efforts really don't conflict with one another. There will
still be a large demand for launch services, for LEO, MEO, and GEO comm
recon and weather sats over the next 10 years. One might argue that
the "new era" in space commercialization has already arrived since
last year commercial space expenditures outpaced government expenditures
for the first time. And many of the new launch vehicles are already
well under way towards development.
I`m not familiar with the AeroVironment venture but I do know of another
one called Angel Technologies run by Peter Diamandis. The prototype
aerial platform, called Proteus, has been constructed by Scaled
Composites. It's ironic that the Proteus will also be the first stage of
Burt Rutan's entry for the X-Prize, which will be used to carry people
into space. So in this case LEO sats and aerial platforms actually
complement one another.
Still A "New Era In Space Commercialization"?
From: "Dejan Bajic" <adastra@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>