Commercial Satellite Navigation

wide range of data on space activities

As reported in the Annual Space Report of The Space Foundation, the global commercial space market totaled nearly $447 billion, up 4.5% from last year and up significantly for the decade. This annual report from the Space Foundation measures worldwide spending by government, the commercial sector and consumers. Each year, a different panel of experts analyzes data from all of the categories to create the annual report. This report provides a wide range of data on space activities through reports such as Space Research and Analysis, Commercial Space Services, and Applications in Off Earth Operations.

According to the Space Report, four nations accounted for nearly half of the total commercial space market. These nations are United States, Russia, China and India. Russia, United States and China continue to invest in and build new satellites and stations while India is slowly phasing out older Russian systems. Both China and India are working on full-scale development of satellite communication systems. Both countries have constellations of satellites orbiting the earth, but neither has an operational system in operation yet.

investing heavily in space

One of the emerging areas of commercial space activity includes satellite navigation. Several countries, including United States, are working on developing a system that would allow commercial airliners to avoid bad weather and other natural hazards by using satellite navigation instead of aviators based flight guidance. The main article notes that several satellites are being launched daily to help consumers find their way around unfamiliar places. Some of the GPS technologies being tested include Automatic Identification System (AIS), Optical Flow Sensors, Near Earth Orbit (NEOL) Geo-locator and Automatic Space Based Navigation. These are not the only technologies being worked on though, as The main article points out that China and India are also investing heavily in space research and satellite navigation.

The main article notes that a lot of interest has been generated in the past regarding the application of satellite imaging for non-military purposes. Commercial users need to be able to access this imaging data, which will give them more insight into enemy activity and help with military strategy. Currently, commercial satellite imagery can only be accessed by the government through the Department of Defense. This problem is likely to be addressed as technology improves and more satellites are launched.

exploration and use of international space stations

A related article in the same issue of NASI solicits views on the Commercialization of Outer Space Resources. Space exploration is a hot topic worldwide and the author writes that the author feels that the United States must invest in infrastructure to support future space exploration and use of international space stations. One possible way to do this would be to create a dedicated commercial satellite radio service. He goes on to propose five recommendations to the national space agency (NASA), which he states are:

The author then calls on the readers of these documents to contact their Member of Congress and ask for a review of the authorization for a commercial use of outer space resources. Commercial satellite navigation could provide an alternative to the U.S. government’s space program, which is currently undergoing a series of budget cuts. Commercial satellite imaging will also provide valuable data to the private industry and increase access to space for research and engineering activities. Satellite radio is already being used successfully to provide television entertainment, and there is a need for this technology to be expanded to include non-space related applications. The author concluding with several recommendations for this expansion.

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