In 1961 the USSR launched the ‘space race’ by successfully sending Yuri Gagarin to space, and back. Sixty years on, we are again in another ‘space race’. But aside from competition to put actors into space the current race is not between Roscosmos and NASA, but is between a plethora of private companies offering services using low earth orbit constellations.
The rapid growth of these networks, most of which are still in their planning stages, is increasing pressure on another area of intense competition, gaining access to spectrum.
In a newly-updated Low Earth Orbit Tracker, we provide a quick reference guide to who’s who in the LEO spectrum race, what their plans are, what spectrum they want to use, and who is paying for them.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given the unproven business models, we previously found that many of these projects were ultimately under-written by governments, which can be less than disciplined investors. This year we noticed that financing for the sector is now also coming from special purpose acquisition companies, an opaque and somewhat contentious form of financing with mixed results for investors.
Of course, governmental and SPAC financing does not imply anything about the eventual success of these projects. Space it seems, is a new frontier for both engineering and business models.
The LEO Satellite Tracker is available to Spectrum Research Service subscribers here.