The renaissance of space is all about what’s going on here

  • Several major technological shifts are driving a renaissance in the space, including falling prices and increasing amounts of data.
  • This can make sustainability and digitalization more effective – the two major economic transformations of our time.
  • Here are 3 main areas where this renaissance is having an increasing impact.

Space in the news headlines on a weekly basis. New rockets, billionaires and space tourists: the excitement never ends!

But behind the scenes a lot is happening. We are experiencing a space renaissance: a period where seismic technological innovations advance new capabilities. But the most important aspect, in my opinion, isn’t the rockets or the satellites (as much as I love those as a space geek), it’s the massive new data we collect in orbit.

There are a few major technological shifts driving this renaissance: missile prices have fallen fourfold over the past decade; Satellite cost performance grew 1,000 times over the same period; And Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables efficient extraction of critical information from these data sets.

These three trends accumulate, unleashing new uses, users, and capabilities from our space assets.

And what’s the point? More data about what is happening on Earth.

The space renaissance is a data revolution

Today we produce 10 times as many Earth images by area than five years ago; And 10 times the bandwidth of communications carried around the planet. This flow of data has a significant impact in three main areas:

1. Economy. There are two global economic transformations of our time, both of which are trillions of dollars in size. The first is the digital transformation of industries, with big data and artificial intelligence enabling entire sectors to operate more efficiently. Satellite data can speed up this transition. Take agriculture, for example. Farmers can use satellite imagery to monitor their fields to catch problems early and improve inputs. Prioritizing selected fields based on this information leads to cost savings while increasing efficiency and revenue. This has a tremendous impact on our diet.

2. Sustainability. There is a multi-billion dollar trend in the transition to a sustainable economy. In this case, companies turn to tracking their ESG goals and governments similarly with their emissions. It all starts with measurement. Data from satellites is central to the transition to sustainability, as we can use it to measure change in natural capital and factor it into our policy making. For example, in partnership with Norway’s Ministry of Climate and Environment (NICFI), forest ministries in 64 tropical countries are using Earth Watch data to reduce deforestation, resulting in a tenfold increase in annual citations and prosecutions for illegal land clearing operations in Some areas. The lesson is simple: Data drives accountability, what drives action.

3. Peace and security. What is the relationship of satellites with politics, peace and security? A lot, it turns out. Daily photography creates a more transparent planet, a technology that highlights global events and brings accountability. Nowhere was this more evident than in the war in Ukraine. Commercial satellite data provides an overhead view of conflict and change calculus. By enabling the world to see and understand change in unprecedented detail, both in time and space, satellite data enables a new level of global transparency, allowing citizens to monitor change as it unfolds around the world and shed light on global events. This accountability is a huge positive force.

A destroyed grain elevator in Rubijn, Ukraine, captured by a satellite from space

Photo: Planet Labs PBC

As fun as it is to see new billionaires and rockets in space, the far more important opportunity for the space renaissance is the data revolution that advances sustainability and digital transformations, the two greatest economic transformations of our time. It brings us renewed transparency and has a profound impact on security and geopolitics, lifting the veil on activities that do not benefit humanity.

This is the true story of the space renaissance, and it’s truly game-changing – not there, but here on Earth.