Innovative operations software do draw interest, and such has occurred to Saber Astronautics for their Predictive Ground Station Project (AKA: PIGI) which has now received Certified Space Technology™ from the Space Foundation.
This software uses video game technology to enable users to create their own missions and operate large numbers of satellites with little training.
The commercial space industry is expected to grow rapidly over the next decade, mainly due to advances in smallsats. Once the realm only of large multinational companies and government agencies, modern small satellites are produced less expensively, so much so that such is enough for entrepreneurs, hobbyists and students to become involved in this satellite environment. Small satellites are producing images and data that are useful to industries such as agriculture, mining and banking, all well within costs in the range of traditional startup seed funding. Some of Saber's customers, for example, include satellites funded for less than $150k on a Kickstarter campaign.
The PIGI project closes that gap, enabling people to rapidly experiment with new concepts. A private Alpha release was completed in September and is now available to the general public. Saber also organized a range of space entrepreneurship workshops in the USA, Australia and the EU, where undergraduate students designed their own missions. Some of these teams are earning cash prizes, with one team even raising Series-A funding based in part from results of the software.
According to Dr. Jason Held, Saber Astronautics' Director and CEO, that's less than half the cost of a juice-bar franchise. The "do-it-yourself" (DIY) movement is getting involved, many of whom are solid engineers and have always wanted to try space but aren't traditionally trained in space engineering. They often do well with developing the satellite, but can struggle with the outdated operational tools, many of which are text based and hard to learn. The aim of Saber Astronautics is the democratization of space where anyone, regardless of background, can bring their innovation, ideas, and talent to market.
Kevin Cook, the Space Foundation Vice President – Marketing & Communications, added that the Predictive Ground Station Project is a uniquely ingenious product, combining space technology and elements of education.