In late February, the Space Com conference met in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Center to discuss the vast applications of science and technology composing the space player landscape. Better Futures sat down with Luciano Giesso, the head of sales, global governments at Satellogic to get some insights about the Space data-gathering entities that were present.
“We are in the earth observation business. We do earth observation satellites and that is the core of our business," said Giesso. He then detailed the wide scope of Space players that were in attendance on the same panel he spoke as an earth observation representative for. These included Amazon Web Services, Dell Technologies, representatives from academia in Australia, among others.
"It was pretty broad in the sense that we had different players and different parts of the value chain of what it means to deliver data to end users. That is sort of a reflection of how the event is built,” said Giesso, who explained the broad scope of the Space players represented.
Giesso was among the few earth orbital intelligence representatives present. He spoke on how grateful he was to present the commercial value of earth orbital intelligence to the panel. Giesso highlighted the importance of earth orbital technology at a critical time in the history of earth observation and high altitude surveillance gathering technologies.
In early February 2023, U.S. headlines were heavily populated with news of a Chinese surveillance aircraft, dubbed by mainstream media as the “Chinese spy balloon”, an event that caused a stir and political debate over the correct aerospace and government response. The debate over the Chinese surveillance craft and its purpose flying over the United States drew the attention of general audiences to expanding technologies that gather data from a high altitude or from the earth's near orbit.
While earth observation intelligence is governed by strict principles by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on the global level, there was a common trend of fear over the surveillance craft. Time magazine wrote that the surveillance balloon had "inflated" America's paranoia. The New York Times called the national response to the balloon the"great balloon freak out." As news drew attention to the "poor man's satellite" balloon system, and other media to the vast network of corresponding satellite systems the Chinese-state owns, fear was sparked over a new era of "war on the edge," The Guardian and Time magazine reported separately.
Yet, as general public fear was kindled, space commercialization players reassured their audiences that the earth orbital intelligence technology can also be used for good.
Giesso, from the capacity of his Satellogic role, explained how his company aligns closely with U.S. and NATO compliance as a U.S.-based entity. By giving an insider's perspective, Giesso gave some context into the applications and compliance with legal expectations affixed to earth observation entities. He explained the role earth observation intelligence plays in pioneering data accessibility all over the world. For Satellogic, the main objective is to pioneer the accessibility of Space-based data for humanitarian as well as commercial interest-driven purposes.
“When it comes to our role before governments, we have no ties to China in that sense. We are very much looking to democratize access to Space data and be able to help governments around the world, both on commercial activities, but also on__I’m going to give you a straightforward example_we supported Ukraine in the war against Russia. We’re providing imagery to NGOs, and the country of Ukraine, and the U.S. and to NATO allies to be able to help evacuate civil populations," said Giesso, explaining that earth orbital intelligence can also aid ground efforts to access resources, as Satellogic has done with Ukraine while the nation has been under invasion.
“We take a stance in those kinds of things because we really believe in the use of data for peaceful purposes,” Giesso said, reiterating that SpaceCom had focused strongly on the mitigation of Space-based data for civil interest uses.
The role of the Chinese national-linked surveillance craft was part of a state-driven aerial surveillance program, The Washington Post reported. Yet, from Giesso's description of Satellogic services, one can see that there are many other applications of earth observation technology. The peaceful application of these sciences have been able to save civilian lives in hostile situations. As commercialization of Space becomes more mainstream, the general public will gain a stronger realization of the pivotal role earth observation intelligence plays in powering modern technology.
Better Futures analyzes that general public observers will begin to understand the applications of earth orbital intelligence gathering technology are what makes the difference. By understanding this, the public will overcome its fear of intelligence gathering from aerospace and Outer Space. Rather, the public will engage in formulating new ways to, like Satellogic, use this technology for the betterment of Humankind.
Orange County Convention Center photographed in November 2019.
Article by Rachel Brooks.
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