New access to satellite data is revolutionizing our approach to myriad environmental, social and economic problems back on earth.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. In 1969, Neil Armstrong’s first steps inspired advancements that led to everything from modern kitchen appliances to the Internet. But 50 years later, space exploration isn’t limited to government-funded missions, launches, and astronauts. Now, private companies are leading today’s “space race” and will help us enter a new era of growth—with satellites. In our season finale, we look toward the stars to see how the satellites of the future could help improve life here on Earth.
We start in Washington State with Chris and Libie Cain, a husband and wife fishing team, whose albacore tuna business is strained by illegal fishing practices — one of the many problems that may soon be solved by satellites. Then we talk to Mike Safyan, the V.P. of Launch at Planet Labs, a start-up that’s revolutionizing how satellites scan the Earth. Planet currently has over 150 satellites capturing data that it licenses to scientists and industry leaders who want the latest information on everything from forest fires to fish migratory patterns. David Kroodsma, an environmental data scientist with Global Fishing Watch, is one of the beneficiaries of the satellite data. He explains how satellite technology can help prescribe preventative medicine for the seas and help people like the Cains, who rely on the economy of the ocean. Morgan Stanley Managing Director of Equity Research Adam Jonas tells us that satellites may soon disrupt the economy of data, shifting information away from some of the largest tech companies in the world to some of the smallest. Along the way, he helps us understand why we should all be excited about the new focus on the humble satellite, and what a booming New Space Economy will mean for Planet Earth.