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Guest: Christopher Richins; Topics: RBC Signals, satellite to Earth communications, commercially operated ground stations and more. Please direct all comments and questions regarding specific Space Show programs & guest(s) to the Space Show blog which is part of archived program on our website, www.thespaceshow.com. Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.
We welcomed Christopher Richins, CEO of RBC Signals to the show for a 68 minute one segment discussion regarding satellite communications and data sent to Earth, plus we also talked about commercially operated ground stations. Christopher started out by describing the RBC Signals business model and why there was a need for turnkey commercially operated ground stations, especially for LEO satellites. This was a most interesting discussion with lots of new information for us so don't miss it. He talked about satellite communication challenges, the need for stations in multiple locations around the world which was challenging given the different legal and regulatory environments with each country, plus varying kinds of infrastructure available in some countries. We talked about why RBC was focusing on LEO and learned that they could actually provide communications from aircraft all the way to GEO comsats. Listen to why they focus on LEO.
Terry from Toronto sent in a note asking him what the difference was with his ground stations and what the old Telstar project would have required. Don't miss how Christopher responded to Terry. I knew the history behind Telstar as I detailed it in my dissertation. As best as I could remember it, I told the story behind the select of the Hughes Syncom GEO system over the ATT Telstar system. This happened during the early part of the JFK Administration, it was very political given the dislike for ATT at the time. Feel free to update the history or make corrections to any errors mentioned on the show. Post the info on the blog. As was pointed out by both Christopher and me, the conditions that existed at the time of JFK and Telstar were significantly different from the conditions today that open up the potential for LEO birds with multiple ground stations around the world.
Christopher spent some time explaining how he got interested in satellite communications going back to when he worked for Planetary Resources. It was an interesting story so do listen to it. After hearing his story, I asked our guest if his company had competition or if the market was too new for competition to set in. He said there was competition, even competition from other nations. In addition, he said the market was still developing, that there was significant regional focus. A listener asked him if he would resell his excess capacity to another company that might offer similar services but at a discount. Listen to what he said about this and his support in expanding the commercial markets given his belief that by doing so it helps develop space for everyone.
Listener Harry from Memphis asked about country to country restrictions, ITAR and then the U.S. regulatory environment. Our guest had much to say regarding each of the above topics and issues. He had much to say about operating in one country that may not permit operations in another country. Here, he talked about Israel, other parts of the Middle East, China, and Russia.
As we were nearing the end of the program, I asked our guest about the average cost of a ground station. He provided a range of costs based on the function and use of the ground station. Marshal then called to talk about polar orbits, most ground stations being located in the northern hemisphere, and southern hemisphere coverage. Marshal and Christopher had a good conversation about these topics, satellite coverage, existing markets and hemispheric trends in market growth. For sure, don't miss it.
Other topics that were discussed included satellite and ground station protection from an EMP. You might be surprised by what he said about this. Later, I asked him about cyber protection and encryption. Before the program ended, Perry send in a note to ask if RBC Signals was planning and IPO in the near future.
Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog. You can reach out guest through his website or me.