In the ever-accelerating commercial space race, satellites are emerging as the next frontier, and at its forefront stands the transformative power of artificial intelligence (AI).
The race to develop more effective satellite systems has only intensified in recent years, with AI emerging as a powerful tool in optimising how satellite constellations are designed, operated, and futureproofed.
Satellite Constellations Present Complex Management Challenges
A satellite constellation is made up of numerous small satellites that operate together to perform various activities such as Earth observation, global communication, and scientific research with the promise of greater coverage, lower latency, and increased scalability. These constellations have traditionally been maintained using predetermined schedules and ground-based commands.
However, the limitations of this approach became increasingly evident as we demanded more from our satellite systems. And, as the feasibility of mega-constellations grow, so does the demand for real-time adaptability, collision avoidance, and autonomous decision-making.
By acting as a navigator with the principal function of predictive maintenance, AI can greatly optimise satellite constellations. AI algorithms can analyse massive volumes of telemetry data to identify potential issues before they escalate. As a result, operators can address problems more proactively, improving the longevity and reliability of satellite systems.
Furthermore, AI gives satellite constellations autonomous capabilities, minimising the requirement for constant ground-based intervention. For example, AI can be used to automate collision avoidance manoeuvres by interpreting sensor data and computing ideal paths in real-time, thereby protecting the satellite constellation’s integrity.
AI Enables Satellite Adaptation in an Uncertain Future
Perhaps one of the most notable benefits of AI is their capacity to provide futureproofing for satellite systems. AI enables satellite constellations to effortlessly adapt to changing circumstances and technological advancements. As new satellite technologies emerge, AI can be used to integrate them into existing constellations, extending their lifespan.
Furthermore, AI makes it easier to deploy machine learning models that improve satellite performance over time. These models can adapt to the ever-changing space environment and optimising satellite operations as a result, ensuring that satellite constellations remain competitive and lucrative in the long term.
Ensuring the Future Advancement of Satellite Technology
Satellite systems are fast becoming a significant part of global infrastructure, but it is now more important than ever to build on this progress with further research and talent development.
Space Faculty’s Let’s Learn About Satellites programme not only offers a unique educational opportunity but also plays a crucial role in shaping the future of satellite technology. In this programme, students aged 15 to 18 have the unique opportunity to learn how to build a satellite from space professionals, culminating in a chance to build and launch a satellite for Singapore in 2025.
By equipping our youth with the skills to design, build, and operate satellites, we are not just preparing them for exciting careers in the space industry; we are ensuring the future of satellite technology advancement. These skilled individuals will carry forward the legacy of innovation and progress, guaranteeing that satellite systems continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible, all while benefiting humanity and our understanding of the universe.