Mobile phone connectivity from space
Multiple players in the industry have recently set their sights on direct-to-mobile connectivity from space. Although it is still a very early market with limited existing capabilities, companies such as Apple, T-Mobile, Globalstar, SpaceX, AST SpaceMobile and Lynk Global are focusing on this area. Several mobile network operators are already on board, even before some of the first operational spacecraft have launched.
Apple is partnering with Globalstar to provide SOS connectivity with its new iPhone 14, and T-Mobile plans to begin low Earth orbit (LEO) connectivity in 2023 through SpaceX, which recently filed an application with the US FCC to include connectivity direct-to-cellular capabilities in its Gen 2 Starlink satellites. Amazon will also launch its first batch of LEO satellites for Project Kuiper.
Most of these early projects will not provide high-speed broadband from space, but will instead provide low-bandwidth connectivity suitable for emergency calling and texting. All of this is intended to serve the currently underserved population around the world, who do not live within reach of traditional cell tower networks.
The commercialization of the moon begins in earnest
Despite the economic uncertainty, we believe new records will be set in space technology as massive commercial projects are funded.
Decades after the Apollo program ended in 1972, extensive governmental and commercial efforts are underway to “go back to the moon.” This was kicked off by NASA’s Artemis program, with the Orion capsule from the Artemis 1 mission returning to Earth after spending nearly a month. travel around the moon.
Almost at the same time, the first fully privately funded lunar mission was launched by SpaceX for the Japanese company iSpace, which is making an economical trip to the moon and will arrive there in April. This would be the first fully commercial mission to land on the Moon, a milestone in Japan-US cooperation in space. Other commercial companies, such as Intuitive Machines and Astrobotic, also focus on moon landings.
With the first commercial companies heading to the moon along with national efforts, we expect 2023 to be a breakthrough year for the cislunar ecosystem.
Three drivers support revenue growth
Developments in the defence, cybersecurity and climate sectors will prove to be a strong tailwind for space technology revenues in 2023. Record growth in defense budgets due to the war in Ukraine and rising geopolitical tensions will drive business and governments’ growing desire for sovereign capability of space assets to lead to some huge orders in the sector. And since cybersecurity is another tool in the geopolitical toolbox, satellite resilience to attack is a priority.
A growing reliance on data sets generated in orbit means that security requirements for data flow from the satellite to the cloud and ground stations are increasing exponentially. We see 2023 as the year the industry embraces quantum opportunities.