10 Ways AI is Making a Difference in the Satellite Industry


Satellite leaders share in their own words how they are using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to make a difference in the industry.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is ushering in a new age of information and the applications for the satellite industry are vast. AI can generate efficiencies throughout the satellite life cycle, from manufacturing to operations, which may be key as constellations will vastly increase the number of satellites in space in the coming years. And as Earth Observation (EO) satellites continue to capture higher levels of resolution, AI can transform how data is processed both in space, and on Earth, increasing the speed at which insights can be delivered to customers. In this round-up, industry leaders from companies like Airbus, Relativity Space, and Hypergiant share how they are using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (ML) to increase space capabilities and make a difference in the satellite industry.

AI Enables LatConnect 60 to Deliver Earth Observation Insights in Real Time

At LatConnect 60, we see a tremendous opportunity to use Artificial Intelligence onboard our satellites to enable near real-time collection and delivery of Earth Observation insights at scale. Our patented Machine Learning algorithms can be applied on-orbit to detect an anomaly and trigger a response. Autonomous responses could include tasking another imaging satellite to collect imagery at a particular timestamp or coordinate a co-collection activity of different data types at the same area of interest. Tasking commands and data collected would be relayed via inter-satellite communications links. Our on-board AI will be able to select the most optimal data link. With sufficient on-board processing hardware on each satellite, our algorithms can process, classify or fuse large volumes of data on-orbit to provide insights directly to end users when they need it. We are seeing significant interest in this capability from government and commercial clients. There will be a greater industry focus on delivering outcomes from smart satellites over the coming years.

— Venkat Pillay, CEO of LatConnect 60



At Hypergiant, AI Frees Up Human Operators for the Most Critical Work

Finally, one of the major facets of our AI and ML work is with assisting human operators managing large fleets of satellites. In this realm, we are developing algorithms to automatically monitor, maintain, and task satellites and ground systems; to automatically respond to stimulus from a fusion of sensors (both on the satellite and from the world at-large); and to efficiency route uplinks and downlinks through a mesh network of ground systems and satellite nodes. The overarching goal here is to hand the tedious, rote, “low cognitive tasks” over to artificial systems while keeping our irreplaceable human operators focused on the rare but critical, “high cognitive tasks” associated with these constellations.

— Ben Lamm, CEO of Hypergiant Industries


Relativity Space Layers AI and ML Software with Intelligent Robotics to Optimize Rocket Manufacturing

At Relativity, we are laser focused on incorporating new technologies that allow us to solve problems never addressed before, automate aerospace manufacturing, and further revolutionize how rockets are built and flown. A key part of this has been realized in how we embrace Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in our manufacturing processes.

Our team has built the world’s largest metal 3D printers internally, and their tech stack wouldn’t be possible without our proprietary and patented AI. Layering our AI and ML software with intelligent robotics has allowed us to optimize every aspect of the rocket manufacturing process. In 2019, we were granted a patent for our advanced AI-powered sensors that provide real-time adaptive control. This technology provides our team the ability to create customized mission specific solutions and rapidly turn them into reliable flight parts, while also reducing lead time and part count. At Relativity we recognize that part of solving problems never solved before means being audacious in creating new solutions and embracing new technologies.

— Brandon Pearce, Avionics and Integrated Software, Relativity


Lockheed Martin is Using AI to Enhance Cybersecurity

Lockheed Martin is applying Artificial Intelligence across the product life cycle – from production to satellite operations. AI is increasing the speed at which satellites can be developed and tested. During key testing milestones like Thermal Vacuum (TVAC), we use an in-house AI system called T-TAURI, which combs through testing data to analyze anomalous results in a fraction of time – significantly decreasing schedule.

AI is also enhancing space capabilities through pathfinder nanosat missions like Lockheed Martin-developed Pony Express and La Jument. Both missions are testing SmartSat, a software-defined satellite platform which uses containerized apps that can be easily uploaded in-orbit. By training an algorithm on the ground, we can upload it to a SmartSat-enabled satellite and run it in real time. One app being tested will be SuperRes, an algorithm that can automatically enhance the quality of an image and enable exploitation and detection of imagery produced by lower-cost, lower-quality image sensors. SmartSat is also opening the door to heuristic pattern and anomaly detection, enabled by AI, which improves cybersecurity resilience on-board with automatic updates as new threats emerge.

Lockheed Martin is also working on ways to autonomously command constellations of satellites of all sizes. As increasing numbers launch, satellites will need to autonomously make trajectory changes like slew maneuvers, a process that is both time and processor-intense for operators. Compass ML is moving those calculations to the edge so vehicles can plan their next maneuvers with or without assistance from the ground or respond to tips and threats.

— Linda Foster, director of Innovation at Lockheed Martin Space Mission Solutions


AI Can Help the Satellite Industry Evolve

With fiber connectivity and consumer demand for Internet in remote areas increasing, satellite can assist in filling the demand in underserved areas. Indeed, satellite represents the foundation on which the entire communications network depends as it is extremely versatile and can reach areas where no cable, fiber, or mobile network will ever be available.

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to help satellite evolve. In a world reliant on constant connectivity, a well-managed network of virtualized teleports and robust redundancy switching are vital components of a reliable service that can be better managed using AI.

Satellite operators need to evolve, from the functional mindset of providing capacity, to the strategic mindset of delivering a service. By virtualizing networks and utilizing the huge amount of data available, machine learning can eventually automate tasks and support operations. Gathering data from base stations significantly improves interference detection, and information from ticketing systems helps to predict potential interference. Feeding an AI-enabled collision avoidance system with telemetry data, mitigates one of the biggest operational risk factors in space. But we need to realize as well that this takes time and effort to develop – as we want it to be at minimum as failsafe as our traditional task handling.

The satellite sector must adapt and focus its resources on building a premium service. This will not only require data but also collaboration between individual operators, in order to deliver a secure future for everyone.

— Helen Weedon, managing director of Satcoms Innovation Group


Raytheon Intelligence & Space Uses AI to Perform Space-Based Battle Management

Traditionally, data processing and exploitation occurs through ground systems when satellites are overhead to download the data. That takes time, which we may not have, particularly with constellations that have hundreds of satellites’ data to process. At Raytheon Intelligence & Space, we’re working on advanced on-board processing using space-qualified signal processors capable of hosting powerful AI and ML applications, where the satellite becomes the data collector, exploiter and disseminator – the brain and the nervous system. That will enable satellites to deliver actionable intelligence directly to the right person at the right time.

We’ve also developed advanced software AI and ML algorithms to perform mission-specific space-based battle management, command, control, and communications applications. When you’re on the front lines, in any domain, time is of the essence. Our AI and ML algorithms enable machine-speed processing for high volumes of data generated from proliferated LEO constellations of sensors.

— Jason Kim, business development executive of Space & C2 Systems at Raytheon Intelligence & Space


AI Helps Monitor the Health of Airbus Satellites in Orbit

Airbus has been using AI for the past few years to improve the quality of the satellite imagery it delivers to customers. This started by working with Google’s open-source Tensor Flow for automatic cloud detection, removing manual checks before image delivery. This has now evolved into automatic change detection of objects such as cars, boats or planes – which is part of our Ocean Finder and One Atlas services. We have been successful in this because we have billions of square kilometers of imagery dating back to 1986, coupled with annotations such as cloud masks made by our experienced domain engineers. We have useful data to feed Machine Learning platforms and the more data from which machines can learn, the more effective the result.

The next steps are to apply AI to stacks of temporal images to monitor Earth but also make AI analysis of imagery onboard the satellite so that image requests can be automatically reprogrammed gaining precious time to generate useful insights. Airbus not only offers these capabilities for its own service products but also onboard the satellites it makes.

Moreover, we are putting AI to use to help us monitor the health of our satellites in-orbit to make future satellites better. We pool all telemetry into a data lake which our engineers then use to create algorithms relating to all stages of a spacecraft’s lifecycle. Last but not least, Airbus sees AI enabling ground segment automation, key to the efficient management of future mega satellite constellations.

— Jean-Marc Nasr, head of Airbus Space Systems


C3S is Adapting Autonomous Vehicle Tech for Satellite Onboard Data Processing

It’s not a new phenomenon to apply Artificial Intelligence in the space industry. But currently, widespread solutions mostly use ground-based equipment. Typically, satellites collect large quantities of business and scientific data and downlink them to the ground, where processing and analysis occur. In many cases, this is insufficient — downlink overload deriving from data volume requires relief, and the need for real-time information demands immediate processing. Not only precision agriculture or natural disaster damage mitigation but also telecommunications, docking operation, asteroid mining, and other autonomous satellite operations could make use of this capacity.

Hungarian C3S LLC. is developing a solution that integrates autonomous vehicle tech company AImotive’s neural network hardware acceleration technology into its space electronics platform to enable high performance AI capabilities in small, power-constrained satellites. The purpose is to get data processed onboard by using Artificial Intelligence, which results in end users obtaining real-time and tailored information instead of data sets waiting to be processed. This method of enhancing capacity is adaptable for large-scale satellites, and as it is general-purpose hardware, it is also applicable for nanosatellite missions.

The demonstration project for this solution is an Earth Observation mission that supports precision agriculture. The onboard computer processes an increased amount of high ground resolution hyperspectral satellite data. The onboard processing of hyperspectral camera data provides farmers essential information on the crops’ biochemical and biophysical state that can bring an increase in volume in the harvesting phase and hence, may contribute to the optimization of the global food chain.

— Gyula Horváth, CEO and co-founder of C3S


Hughes Applies AI to Network Traffic Management, Triage, and Capacity Planning

At Hughes, we use Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to streamline network operations and improve the customer experience — from planning to installation to ongoing network optimization. In the planning phase, we developed an AI application to identify what data transports are available and aligned to our enterprise customer’s business needs at any of their locations. For residential and business satellite installations, another AI-driven app that we developed automatically reviews completed installations and identifies any issues that need to be addressed to help get our customers online faster.

Across our network, we apply AI for traffic management, triage and capacity planning, often implementing pre-emptive actions to shorten help desk response time and avoid issues before they happen. Hughes is the first managed services provider to deliver a self-healing WAN edge capability to enterprise customers — in use at more than 32,000 sites. This AIOps feature automatically predicts and preempts undesirable network behavior—preventing issues in 70% of cases and providing early diagnoses in the other instances.

And finally, in the defense arena, we are applying AI to the Flexible Modem Interface (FMI), part of the $2.2 million U.S. Space Force (USF) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) contract. Built into the FMI, an AI rules engine autonomously makes decisions based on the terminal’s state, operational environment, and relevant policies — enabling resiliency and reliability for military networks and the flexibility to change configurations in near real-time.

— Sharyn Nerenberg, senior director for Hughes


At Orbital Insight, AI Transforms Geospatial Data in Actionable Answers


Artificial intelligence is elevating how the satellite industry can be used at scale. Today’s abundance of satellite imagery has huge potential to help companies, investors and governments make critical decisions, but the volume also makes it impossible to manually analyze the trends within each of those pixels. Applying AI helps make sense of this data deluge by automating analysis and even integrating it with other data. My company, Orbital Insight, develops geospatial analytics to reveal previously hidden trends about what’s happening on and to the Earth. We use AI to transform multiple sources of geospatial data — including satellite images, mobile location, connected cars and other Internet of Things (IoT) data — into objective answers about the state of supply chains, global commodities, geopolitical events, and demographics. The goal is more informed decision making.

AI vastly increases the power and applications of satellite imagery. For example, Unilever recently announced its partnership with Orbital Insight to track its palm oil supply chain down to the elusive farm first-mile and to prevent deforestation. After creating crop origin maps using geofencing and location data, our computer vision algorithms are applied to satellite imagery to monitor forest health in real-time and to watch for deforestation threats. During the pandemic, Orbital Insight has been tracking the effects of COVID-19 on the movement of people and goods globally to help organizations adapt.

— Dr. James Crawford, CEO of Orbital Insight


The Governor received Rueben Rajasingam and Mick Bolto from LatConnect 60


1 Sep, 2020


The Governor with Rueben Rajasingam and Mick Bolto, Latconnect

Rueben Rajasingam and Mick Bolto, Latconnect 60


The Governor met with Mr Rueben Rajasingam, Co-Founder of LatConnect 60 and Mr Mick Bolto, Chairman.


LatConnect 60 have based their headquarters in Perth to take advantage of the emerging space innovation hub. LatConnect 60 is collaborating with satellite partner York Space Systems and Curtin University, which will develop local capability in WA. The Intelligent Sensing and Perception Group at Curtin University, are developing new algorithms to exploit rapid advances in AI, Internet of Things and embedded systems, which underpin the signal processing and data analytics onboard the new satellites (due for launch in June 2021).




New satellites to boost Australia’s national security capability

Australian-based company LatConnect 60 announced Tuesday (7 July) a global space partnership to build and deploy a smart satellite constellation over Australian skies to help the Australian government and commercial clients monitor and protect their interests in the region. The announcement comes amid rising global tensions, with the Australian prime minister last week announcing a A$1.35 billion response to a major cyber-attack targeting Australia by a state-based actor. With plans to launch in June 2021, the new low earth orbit smart satellite constellation will provide close to real-time data on request to clients giving Australia a boost to its strategic observation capabilities.


The key industries set to benefit from access to the new RF Signal Intelligence and High Resolution Multispectral Imaging include government security and intelligence agencies; as well as mining, oil and gas; agriculture; and maritime. Potential examples of use are maritime surveillance, resource exploration, and crop yield and change detection in farming.


LatConnect 60 Founder and CEO Venkateshwara Pillay.


LatConnect 60 Founder and CEO, Venkat Pillay said: “The reality is until now Australia has had to rely on overseas providers for access to critical earth observation data. COVID-19, coupled with rising global tensions, has made governments and companies take a closer look at the technologies they need and who they can rely on to provide those technologies in a crisis. Australia is too reliant on overseas companies for observation data and that data is not exclusive or secure.” LatConnect 60 also announced a new security partnership with ProximaX, who will use a combination of two-layer encryption, de-centralised storage and blockchain technology to encrypt and secure all data captured by LatConnect 60 satellites to ensure it is resilient to attack. “We are excited to be working with ProximaX.

Their sophisticated encryption and de-centralised data storage architecture is combined with blockchain technology to thwart cyberattacks, ensuring the data we collect will remain protected from the types of hostile attacks that the Australian Government is facing,” Pillay said.


LatConnect 60’s smart satellite constellation offers a valuable service differentiator in the geospatial market by collecting high-resolution Earth Observation (EO) imagery products and RF signal intelligence at the same timestamp, and processing it on-orbit with machine learning capabilities to make sense of the data. “Our competitors have launched expensive multi-purpose satellites not tailored to the Australian market. What sets our patent-pending technology apart is that it is fit for purpose and as a result our services are more flexible, more reliable but also more affordable while providing the same quality, if not better, imaging,” Pillay said.


LatConnect 60 has chosen to set up its headquarters in Perth, while it is also plugged into the growing South Australian space ecosystem and is a start-up member of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre based in Adelaide. “We have based our headquarters in Perth to take advantage of the space innovation hub which is coming to life thanks to the WA government’s recent investment and leadership in developing these technologies which will provide the jobs of the future,” Pillay said.


LatConnect 60 is collaborating with satellite partner York Space Systems and Perth’s Curtin University, which will develop local capability in WA. Professors Ba-Ngu Vo and Ba Tuong Vo, from the Intelligent Sensing and Perception (ISP) Group at Curtin University, have been selected as the main research partners with LatConnect 60: “The ISP Group is developing new algorithms to exploit rapid advances in AI, IoT and embedded systems, which are expected to underpin the signal processing and data analytics onboard the new satellites,” said Ba-Ngu Vo.


LatConnect 60 has ambitious plans to cement Australia’s position as a major player in the growing space economy, initially supplying its services to Australian clients before expanding across the region and the globe as it scales up its satellite constellation and product applications. Founded by Venkat Pillay and Rueben Rajasingam, the leadership team at LatConnect 60 brings with it an impressive track record, having worked with the likes of NASA, the Canadian and European space programs, CSIRO and BHP Billiton.



For Editorial Inquiries Contact:
Editor Kym Bergmann at kym.bergmann@venturamedia.net


Related News Links









SINGAPORE / AUSTRALIA, 24 JUNE 2020 – LatConnect 60, is working with ProximaX to develop an agriculture sector use case for blockchain-based parametric insurance, enabled by high resolution satellite Earth Observation (“EO”) data. LatConnect 60, an Australian company, is in the business of providing cost effective high resolution satellite imagery and radio frequency (“RF”) signal intelligence data.


Climate and natural disasters such as cyclones, droughts, heat waves, floods, earthquakes, and wildfires impact many countries and aspects of development. Furthermore, global climate changes and tectonic shifts are increasingly impacting these disasters more severely. Consequently, disaster insurance such as parametric insurance for sovereign governments, and microinsurance for the poor, are emerging as financial products to mitigate the socio-economic impacts of climate disasters.


Despite the urgency for parametric insurance however, there remain major hurdles to its widespread adoption. These hurdles include inefficient claim administration as well as a lack of relevant data. Therefore, insurance providers have been reluctant to invest in scaling these products.


The LatConnect 60 – ProximaX partnership will see the development of a blockchain-based parametric insurance solution that is enabled by satellite-based EO data thus removing these inefficiencies by:


  1. automating the entire insurance cycle with Supercontracts (enhanced smart contracts);

  2. increasing transparency with a secure, and immutable distributed ledger;

  3. storage of satellite imagery and data using two-layer blockchain and encryption solution on-board LatConnect 60’s satellites and at its ground stations to ensure resiliency of the satellite EO data collected against cyber attacks; and

  4. aggregating and transferring insurance data to the public domain.


Trusted data, which is essential for pricing risks and for establishing pay-outs, can be obtained via LatConnect 60’s satellite-based EO data to provide an “oracle” feed for blockchain-based parametric insurance on the ProximaX Sirius platform.


The solution will draw on the full and unique features and functions of the ProximaX Sirius platform to include the use of their W3C compliant digital ID, distributed storage, Supercontracts, and the Sirius blockchain. This ensures a transparent, cost-effective and almost frictionless solution while the integrity of all data – from policies and payouts to know-your-counterpart (“KYC”) and anti-money laundering (“AML”) is assured. At a later stage, the Sirius video and messaging streaming service can be incorporated to provide specialized live streaming of imaging and processing data.


LatConnect 60 shall provide their expertise in owning and operating a low earth orbiting (“LEO”) smart satellite constellation which they will be launching in 2021. Their solutions include the use of artificial intelligence to autonomously geolocate and process RF signals identified in order to trigger its imaging payload and any other secondary payloads. Data collected will be processed and delivered to end users in an Activity Intelligence Report.


Insurance plays a major role in offsetting negative financial impacts when disasters strike. It is hoped that the introduction of this blockchain-based parametric insurance solution will reduce risk exposure, increase financial resilience for individuals, mitigate the socio-economic effects of climate change across communities, and assist countries in recovering from natural disasters.


About LatConnect 60


LatConnect 60 is an Australian company founded in Perth, Western Australia that provides vital insights for our world. LatConnect 60 is launching its own Low Earth Orbit (“LEO”) smart satellite constellation which will have a global service reach.


Its smart satellite constellation offers a valuable service differentiator in the geospatial market by collecting high resolution Earth Observation (“EO”) imagery products and radio frequency (“RF”) signal intelligence at the same timestamp, and processes it on-orbit with machine learning capabilities to make sense of this data.


LatConnect 60 serves government and commercial clients by providing greater control, exclusivity and flexibility of critical EO data products and analytics services, in an affordable and accessible manner. It has developed significant patented IP in this domain and is working with leading Australian research and development institutions to deploy its innovative EO analytics capabilities both on-orbit and in the field.


For more information, visit https://latconnect60.com


About ProximaX


ProximaX is a blockchain-based infrastructure and development platform project that combines blockchain technology with distributed service layers.  It integrates blockchain with distributed and decentralized storage, streaming, database, and Supercontract (enhanced smart contract) service layers to create an all-in-one, easy-to-use platform.  ProximaX is built for scalability and can include more services in the future without compromising on performance. It is a unique enterprise-grade platform developed on proven technologies and is available in a private, public, and hybrid network configuration.


ProximaX’s extensive utility and flexibility can be used for a wide range of use cases that include, but are not limited to, W3C compliant digital identity, KYC, video streaming and chat, IoT and robotics, big data and AI, records and reporting, business continuity, legal and notary services, medical records, land registry, capital markets, e-payments and core banking, and supply chain management.


Media Contact: Sue Ng, sue.ng@proximax.ltd | Website: www.proximax.ltd



LatConnect 60 selects York to build and operate satellites

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SAN FRANCISCO – Australian Earth observation startup LatConnect 60 announced plans June 9 to hire York Space Systems to manufacture small satellites and to operate its Earth observation constellation.


LatConnect 60, a company founded in 2019, plans to launch its first satellite in 2021 and to establish an initial constellation of three satellites with multiple payloads, including radio frequency detection sensors and multispectral imaging cameras.


By relying on artificial intelligence, each LatConnect 60 satellite will be “able to autonomously geolocate and process RF signals identified in order to trigger its imaging payload and any other secondary payloads” to collect data, according to a June 9 news release. Data collected will be “fused and delivered to end users in an Activity Intelligence Report,” the release added.


“We strongly believe in LatConnect 60’s mission, especially as it serves to help national security surveillance efforts by the Australian government,” Dirk Wallinger, York Space Systems CEO, said in a statement. “We are eager to work with their team on this constellation build out to not only further highlight our delivery times and competitive price points but to also be a part of the latest innovation in space.”


LatConnect 60 selected York for “their design methodology, delivery and mission services plan,” LatConnect 60 CEO Venkat Pillay said in a statement. He also praised “York’s fast delivery time, which is well under nine months to orbit and at an attractive price point.”


York Space Systems is expanding rapidly. The company, which seeks to mass manufacture small satellites for commercial and government customers, unveiled a manufacturing facility in Denver in May that is three times the size of its previous plant.


LatConnect 60 is developing a small satellite constellation to provide “critical Earth observation data required by the Australian government and a wide range of commercial clients across the world,” according to the news release.


The LatConnect 60 website advertises: “high resolution satellite imagery and RF signal intelligence data collected concurrently multiple times a day from low earth orbit over Australia, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Europe and Americas.”


Related News Links

Space News: LatConnect 60 selects York to build and operate satellites 

PR Newswire: York Space Systems announces innovative partnership with LatConnect 60 to deploy small satellite constellation 

Satnews: York Space Systems and LatConnect 60 Partnership for a Smallsat Constellation 

Geospatial World: York Space Systems and LatConnect 60 to deploy a small satellite constellation 

Space Daily: York Space Systems and LatConnect 60 to deploy a small satellite constellation

SpaceRef: York Space Systems Announces Innovative Partnership with LatConnect 60 to Deploy Small Satellite Constellation