As part of UKspace’s series of articles during World Space Week 2020, looking at how satellites improve life, AAC Clyde Space’s CEO, Luis Gomes, recognises the immediate and predictive benefits that satellite technology brings.
One question that I am frequently asked is “what has space ever done for us?”. Not in the rhetorical, ‘Roman Empire’ form of the question, but rather a genuine question on the value of space and satellites – not just for society in general, but also for the individual.
Satellite technology is about making our lives, the life of each Earth citizen, better, safer and ultimately more fruitful. Probably the most widely given example to illustrate this point, is the one of global navigation systems such as GPS or Galileo. These systems deliver a benefit to hundreds of millions of us every day, either by taking us to the right place or by ensuring, among other things, that the pizza we ordered online finds its way to our house, still nice and crispy. Why do we use this example? Because it is relatable and easily understood. It is present in our daily lives, making it safer and more enjoyable (if you like pizza!) to be alive.
And there are many other examples that demonstrate why satellites are so important to us individuals, even if that importance is not obvious. As I write this text, Europe is in the grip of Storm Alex, which is bringing challenging conditions to the continent and endangering lives and livelihoods. But thanks to satellites, we knew it was coming, can forecast what it will do next and can predict its intensity and measure risk. Without satellites, the first time we would know about the storm would be when it knocked on our doors, or more likely, when it blew them off the hinges. Could we achieve these outcomes using other methods? Probably, but certainly not as efficiently or cost-effectively.
Navigation and weather forecasting are obvious examples, but we could name many others, from managing our food supply from space to enabling a connected Earth through Internet of Things constellations. This ability to predict what is coming and to understand and control our environment is how satellites have improved our life.