Wednesday, September 29, 2021

At the Global Satellite Servicing Forum (GSSF) 2021 meeting this morning there was a question to panelists for SpaceLogistics, Astroscale, Starfish and Gitai on the role of debris removal, servicing and assembly companies in ISS life extension or removal. In the Q&A someone from Goddard posted this link

In the discussion it became clear that industry's expectation is this transition will be completed before the decade is out. Our space infrastructure on-orbit will transition from servicing of legacy systems to servicing of cooperative client spacecraft.

I believe this is the first time anyone has put a calendar on this formative transition.

Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Food for thought:
The path ahead for on-orbit data processing is going to be interesting.  AI and cloud are coming. So is more processing capability. The delay tolerant question is starting to look to have more impact on near real time demands, coupled with bandwidth access.

Exo-Space Prepares For High Demand For On-Orbit Data Processing

Space News (9/22, Subscription Publication) reports that Exo-Space “has pivoted in response to growing demand for on-orbit data processing.” Exo-Space’s FeatherEdge image-analysis device for satellites and balloon payloads, “will rely on machine vision algorithms to detect objects within its field of view.” Exo-Space is offering monitoring of a specific area of interest for “a monthly subscription fee,” providing frequent updates to customers.

Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Does Defense or Industry lead the Military Industrial Complex?

For many years there has been a question as to whether corruption is due to poverty, or is poverty due to corruption? The ballot came in several years ago establishing that corruption causes poverty.
A similar question might be posed today regarding industry and defense. Perhaps the most contested microcosm of general industry is that of space. Historically my experience is that Defense has lead the Space Military Industrial Complex. Today, in a conversation regarding the need for MBA programs in space, the challenge was made to justify that the old mantra is passed, and that the future will have Industry lead?
This is not a trivial question.
To elaborate a little bit, one might suggest that an MBA where Defense, not Industry, leads, the need for an MBA is formulaic. Where Industry leads, innovation is essential
The answer will determine the future of humanity in space.
There was a time in my life where to write the letters "NRO" in my OPR would have resulted in someone going to jail. Pseudonyms were used. Later in my career, out from under the umbrella, charged with developing new technology for the Space Defense Industrial Complex, efforts were inexplicably stymied; I could not see why.  As a student of physics and engineering I could see textbook answers which appeared obvious, but defense funded research seemed blind to. Still later, I had the opportunity to work with "Colonel Bob" on a cross-agency initiative (There were a couple on interoperability or cost and schedule savings; I cannot remember which one). I mentioned my earlier frustration, and "Colonel Bob" responded, "Isn't it great?!"

My intent on posing this question is not to challenge the need for the Defense component of the Space Military Industrial Complex. The question is, "Who is to lead?" Or to relate to the conversation of earlier today, do individuals looking for future education opportunities need to consider Business or an MBA?

Fortunately we have reached the stage where markets, not the Military Industrial Complex, will answer the question.

Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Is Space a Zero Sum Game?

{This note was prompted by a discussion on how the space Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) can and should work together. A position from one or more SDOs is reported to be there is opposition to cooperation due to concerns about competition in standards development and loss of potential revenue/market share.}

In a zero sum game for each transaction,  each party either gains or loses, with the net value of transactions equaling zero. This implies the market value is fixed. Commonly this kind of transaction is called a “win-lose”.

In a non-zero sum game the market value is not fixed. It is possible for the net value of transactions to be greater in value than the simple summation of transactions. Commonly this kind of transaction is called a “win-win”.

Is Space a zero sum game? No.

While funding may have been fixed in the past, relying primarily on government budgets, today and in the foreseeable future, Space will be a growing market.

What does this mean for Standards Development Organizations (SDOs)?

The expansion of the space marketplace is based on growth in small satellite markets, growth in space tourism, growth in all possible permutations and variations of space access, space capabilities, space command and control and space product delivery. The US Department of Commerce has estimated growth from about $300B/yr to $1T/yr in the next ten years.

SDOs serve markets, so as the market grows the need for standards will increase.  For the space industry, the lack of a large industry wide standards library means there will be a need to fill the vacuum and expand to meet future needs. There is a lot of work to do.

What is the impact if the US treats space standards development as a zero sum game? As the standards market expands in the global space market, non-US SDOs will provide the new international library. US companies, striving to succeed in the in the global market, will use any applicable standards that help them compete and grow. Therefore, if US SDOs follow a zero sum philosophy, only US SDOs will lose market share. That is not quite true: if one follows W. Edwards Deming’s teaching that “he who owns the standard owns the industry”, then the US will lose its leadership position in the global space market.

There is no mystery here. US space standards development, where there are multiple SDOs, must be done cooperatively. This can be at the national level, the international level, or both. Who leads is almost immaterial, as long as the leadership is done well.

Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

On a Space "Code of Conduct"

There has been a good bit of discussion in the past few weeks about a "Code of Conduct" for space. Leonard David's article in Space News ( spoke to the need for such a code and what it might entail.  My feeling is we are already working on this.  The bits and pieces that might make up a future code are included in the technical standards we have been working on for the past several decades.  A specific example of current activity is the publication of new standards on orbital debris mitigation.  ISO 24113: Space Debris Mitigation Requirements is the top level document of this set. In the standards community, misconduct for space can be, and is, considered as non-compliance with the current, published, open requirements that make up standards.
David includes an interview with Laura Grego, a scientist for the Global Security Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Mass and she suggests a Code of Conduct compliant "space actor should

•Give notice of an impending launch
•Construct the satellite to encompass relevant safety and reliability standards
•Coordinate the satellite's orbit and communications frequencies with other users to prevent physical and electromagnetic interference
•Be as clear as possible about what the satellite’s purpose is intended to accomplish
•Make sure that close approaches and collisions are avoided"

almost all of which is accomplished by complying with rules, regulations and standards that exist today.

We can and should do a better job, and it is simply too easy today to find examples of misconduct in space.  We do need to do a better job.  We do not need another body of rule makers, but a little help on making the bodies that exist today more effective would be a welcome step.
Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Turmoil - More of the Same

I've been watching the US domestic space budget turmoil for the past several months, as have many of you.  My feeling is that we are not really seeing much in the way of change on how funding actually percolates down to programs.  For years, if not decades, the life of a space program in NASA or DoD has been extremely unstable.  What we are seeing now is the bubbling up of this funding inconsistency (and it is not the only inconsistency) as external pressure continues to grow.  This is not new, and it was very predictable.

The questions for the US domestic space complex are not about whether we should continue to have an astronaut corps, or national science and defense space efforts.  Of course we should! Every able nation is reaching for the capability space brings to terrestrial needs. No, the real question is one every organization faces in our transitional world: How can US domestic space organizations bring value to the American people?

Some maintain that value comes in the form of jobs created and sustained.  Some maintain that value comes in keeping the nation strong.  There are many more positions of what the value is to a nation (our nation).  And they are ALL right.  The only wrong answer, in my view, is to deny the value others hold.  Dr Don Warrick taught a class I took on Organizational Change.  He made a statement in class one day that is a fundamental truth, "Often the problem of selecting one solution or another doesn't give us the correct answer. In many cases it is not a question of 'this' or 'that'.  The answer is 'this' and 'that'." While it may not be possible to actually fund everything we all want from space projects, there is a way to allow all viable solutions to grow.  This is the fundamental problem with the US domestic space industry - it has become a control freak over space abilities.  Just say the word, "space" and someone claims to be the controller of your activity.  Today, control has passed, or is passing, to others.

There is a problem with the US domestic space effort.  It was predictable. The solutions to our problems, while politically entabgled, are understandable.  Part of the solution is the creation of open solutions to our space needs, and that is what the Space Infrastructure Foundation is all about.

Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Six months without a post: well. there was a reason.  Five surgeries on the left foot and left arm.  An active lifestyle can really take it's toll.  Is it worth it?
Yesterday I attended a presentation to the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (UCCS) Alumni by Donald Klingner, a professor at the School of Public Affairs.  I'm on the Alumni Board and this is one of the opportunites you get with such a position.  Anyway, while Dr Klingner's presentation spoke to "Civil Engagement and Public Service: The Vital Role of Colorado's Public Universities" it also spoke to me about what SIF is trying to do. Too often I find myself trying to explain the complexities of moving from today's limited use of space capabilities to tomorrow's enrichment of human life (actually, all life) by moving infrastructure from a terrestrial base to a space base. What SIF is trying to do is build to technical standards base that brings that future to us more quickly.  Dr Klingner spoke of several things, and one point I found very interesting is the idea of building governance in a community.  As he was quick to point out, this is not "government" but "governance."
One of the truths of voluntary compliance standards is that they do not hold the power of law.  Rather, standards form a common basis for a (technical) community in executing their work.  This is self-governance.  I know that is obvious, but it needs to be repeated and emphasized for the global space community.  We are not likely to see rules of law, beyond existing UN treaty statements, for a long time.  There are too many other arenas, other policy domains, of higher visibility where policy makers use loosely related space issueas pawns. No, real progress, if it can be made, needs to happen within the space industry - and that needs global dialog to get real solutions.
I'll ask Dr Klingner if I can post his presentation on this site - while the target audience yesterday was UCCS alumni, the messge is true for many other audiences.  If you're reading, you're part of a listening global space audience.

A side note: all the surgeries were related to a ruptured achilled tendon (me and Beckam playing soccer, same week, oceans apart).  Unfortunately, mine had complications (infection).  Thanks to great doctors (Haggerty, Kobayashi and Kam) at the Air Force Academy I am on the course to 100% recovery. I did spend about two weeks in the hospital, a month in a wheel chair, and four months on crutches.  Today I am walking and cycling.  Running will come.

Best regard to our readers.

Unless otherwise noted, the blog posts are written by Frederick A. Slane, Executive Director of the Space Infrastructure Foundation.