And no more worrying about your satellite being smashed by a “drunk driver” as new tech promises to predict hazards in orbit
Headed to space and worried about astral fender benders from space junk collisions? There’s a CES vendor for that. Worried too many satellites are snooping in your direction? Same thing. Want a comfy flight suit and tasty stellar snacks while you’re there? Yeah, that too.
One startup here called SpaceMap hopes to be the Google Maps of space, preventing everything from satellite collisions to predicting where pretty much everything whizzing around at thousands of miles an hour is, so they don’t hit each other.
From a security standpoint, SpaceMap could also alert you when a foreign object is approaching your satellite, perhaps intending to do harm.
We opined here previously that space hacking would be the next cybersecurity frontier. Recent reports confirm the continual digital pounding of space infrastructure, from the ground stations on up, looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. But if an adversary can fly up and meddle directly, how would you know?
ADDITIONAL READING: DEF CON 29: Satellite hacking 101
Enter conjunction assessment. It’s the space equivalent of knowing a drunk driver is careening through space toward your multimillion-dollar platform, and it can detect potential space wrecks days in advance.
If “a drunk is coming”, the tech can help you swerve in time to avoid close calls. SpaceMap says it can also help you navigate to less crowded orbits with fewer problems in the future, by assessing space congestion and helping you to steer clear.
Speaking of optimization and directing traffic, if optimizing the shortest path for data to travel between satellites reduces latency in network traffic, that could mean network speedups.
It may also be interesting if you need to coordinate a space service call to fix issues with your satellite, aiding in the rendezvous, but it’s too soon to tell.
If folks are looking for the best way to clean up space junk, technology like this will aid the “trash trucks” of space to do a little celestial cleaning in the future.
This is the first year that space tech has had a dedicated spot on the show floor, and it’s admittedly small, but not if these scrappy startups have anything to say about it. We’ve already seen the ramping up of the commoditization of space; now it’s time to make it more accessible, and mapping it all out will be fundamental to avoiding traffic jams. With satellites still costing millions, optimizing their paths even a few percent might be worth it. Also, SpaceMap has a cool domain – spacemap42.com. Don’t tell me you study the universe and don’t know the interstellar meaning of 42?
Outside the main CES halls, Sierra Space has a mockup of a spacecraft it hopes will be used in the future to swoop would-be travelers back and forth to space, complete with sexy low-profile space suits, mockups of comfy space apartments and veggie gardens in space. Chicken, however, will be much harder to come by. They weren’t offering rides at the show.