Image, if you will, you work for a lumber company. This lumber company needs a way to reduce costs concerning observing and tracking the millions of acres of land they won used in the growing of trees. Traditionally someone has to been sent out to the properties and take recordings of the growth rate, health, and population of the trees. This cost is a major budget factor in the companies expansion plans in to other market opportunities.
You know what would be great? If your company could use existing commercial observation satellites in orbit. ‘That would be awesome’ you think. But even with the decrease in launch costs the ground based physical infrastructure would be expensive. Downlink hardware, operations of the location, command and control. Bummer, would have been awesome.
Enter ‘Ground Station‘; ‘…fully managed Ground Stations-as-a-Service (GSaaS) satellite communication, downlink, and process satellite data…’. If you are thinking “No way; this has to be a prank.”, then you are not alone. When the initial announcement was made the image in the blog article had a lego model as a demo of the hardware. This made to be a prank, right?
As far as I can tell, nope. Though it does look like the current state of the service is invite approval only AND you still have to have your own satellite. The sign up for requires your Satellite ID assigned from NORAD/USSPACECOM.
Reality check time: Ground Station is an invite only, bring your own orbiting hardware, early release program. But still, the audacity / guts to rent ground based command and control systems. Wow. So I signed up. No, I do not have my own satellite (yet ^_^) but I am hoping there are publically accessible ones for citizen scientist I could interface with. I’ll let you know if I get accepted.
So what are you thoughts? Is AWS going to take over the satellite C&C industry next? Is this SkyNet in the making? Is this the beginning of the Elon’s Space Empire? LEt me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Also published on Medium.