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Infrastructure in space supports innovations on earth

NewSpace refers to the commercialisation of space and its growing integration with the non-space economy. Future technologies such as autonomous driving or Industry 4.0 are based on innovations that are anchored in space. Precise weather forecasts and climate monitoring are inconceivable without satellites, and satellite-based navigation systems are already indispensable in the field of transport and logistics. NewSpace is therefore the collection point for ideas and applications for the commercial use of space.
 

Earth Observation - "Taking the Pulse of our Planet from Space"

Our know-how in Earth observation and remote sensing comes from a wide range of applications in the field of Environmental services & geospatial solutions (disaster control, environmental risk monitoring, border surveillance, etc.). In the context of NewSpace, we focus on the topic of "sustainability" and the contribution of innovative NewSpace applications. For example, we are thinking of smart farming, monitoring in the area of gas flaring, climate, raw material extraction, disaster risk management, etc.

Our approach: We combine our traditional geospatial services with methods from the artificial intelligence and machine learning toolbox. For example, we combine Earth observation data with insights from publicly available sources (Open Source Intelligence - OSINT) to verify events worldwide.
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Project IMonitor

In the Project IMonitor* - AI for Monitoring Changes and Food Supply from Space - we combine Earth observation data with a variety of other information sources (e.g. financial trends, soil information, weather and climate patterns). This enables near-daily monitoring of the Earth for decision support and detection of changes in land cover and land use. We are thus making important contributions to disaster management and food security. 
 

* together with the TUM (Remote Sensing Technology Chair) and the DLR (Remote Sensing Technology Institute)

 

Secure connectivity - "Always on Air with 5G"

In today's digital world, space-based connectivity is one of the strategic cornerstones for sovereignty and competitiveness. Secure connectivity is essential for applications such as  autonomous driving (including in rural areas), IoT and critical infrastructure.

5G offers connectivity with three key benefits: Broadband support, low latency and a high number of terminals. Release 17, published in the summer, also covers satellite connections (Non Terrestrial Networks, NTN) and can thus integrate terrestrial and satellite-based networks. 5G is thus excellently suited for use in the above-mentioned NewSpace applications..

With IABG's 5G Testbed, we have set ourselves the goal of looking at concrete aspects of IT security, also using AI methods. Especially in highly automated driving, we are investigating the effects of jamming and spoofing on the satellite navigation used in the sensor platforms. Here we benefit from our many years of expertise in GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite Systems) as well as in the area of safety and security..  

Enable Mega Satellite Constellations

Mega-constellations (e.g. Starlink) or cooperating satellite swarms create new requirements in terms of navigation and attitude control to avoid collisions (also with space debris). Thomas Reiter*: „The need for automated collision avoidance is exemplary of how space travel in the 21st century is dramatically increasing in complexity. Artificial intelligence is becoming indispensable to manage this complexity, to operate, network, coordinate and protect our space infrastructure, and to get the most out of the data from our scientific satellite missions."

 

* Thomas Reiter, ESA Coordinator for International Agencies and Advisor to the ESA Directorate General. Source www.esa.int/Space_in_Member_States/Germany/Kuenstliche_Intelligenz_treibt_Raumfahrt_des_21._Jahrhunderts_an (26.08.2022)

Cumulative on-orbit distribution functions in orbit (all orbits). Deorbited objects are not included. The spikes in 2007 and 2009 are from a Chinese anti-satellite test and the collision between Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251, respectively. The recent rapid spike in the orange curve represents NewSpace. Source: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-89909-7/figures/1 (Download on 12.09.2022)

Together with our partners, we are working on the development of autonomous decision-making processes. Accumulating data volumes are no longer manageable by conventional methods. Fast, reliable and fault-tolerant on-board processing on the satellite is required to be able to react to events at the required speed. For this purpose, we combine mass-produced, commercially available microprocessors optimised for the use of artificial intelligence methods with intelligently designed software architectures to form a robust and reliable edge computing unit for on-board AI applications that are tailor-made for space applications.

To simulate the mechanical loads during the launch of the rocket and the environment in space, IABG offers a variety of test facilities to perform qualification tests on complete satellites and launcher systems as well as on their components. The wide range of business areas allows us to serve the classical space market as well to offer customized services for the NewSpace sector. Based on our more than 60 years’ experience in planning, preparation and performing of test campaigns for space related hardware we develop specifically designed test concepts and procedures, which are suited to the unique needs of NewSpace projects. The defined test programmes can be realized straightforward on our test facilities.