Broadcast 3550 Scott Herman

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Guest: Scott Herman;  Topics:  An introduction to BlackSky, Geospatial intelligence and global monitoring, dusk-to-dawn capabilities, LEO Constellation, commercial value, market growth, national security and much more.

We welcomed Scott Herman to the program for two segment 1 hour 44 minute discussion regarding his company BlackSky, Geospatial intelligence and global monitoring, the remote sensing and imagery industry, commercial markets and more.  Please visit the BlackSky website for additional information:  Furthermore, later in the program we learned that the BlackSky small satellites are made by a subsidiary company LEO Stella.  You can find out more about this company at  During our discussion, we covered a multitude of topics, some technical and some not so technical.  As I have been doing with other programs, I am repeating the Tags/Key Words below to offer you a short summary of our discussion.  Many of the topics listed did get discussed in the order presented but from time to time we jumped around, went in different directions when responding to an email question or a caller.  That said, the Tags/Key Words are a good summary of the topics discussed during this program.  Scott was great with his responses, detailed full of explanation, even on the technical.

Tags and Key Words:

BlackSky, global monitoring, Geospatial intelligence, Dawn-to-Dusk Monitoring, smallsats, latency issues, commercial and market demand, industry geospatial awareness, LEO, launch costs, The BlackSky Global intelligence Platform, multi-sensor fusion, satellite imagery, remote viewing, advanced technologies, competition, small satellite capabilities, small satellite life expectancy, LEO congestion, satellite propulsion, polar orbits, inclined orbits, ion propulsion, data sources, RF, radar, drones, IoT, social medial BlackSky constellation details, LEO Stella, satellite frequencies, FCC, NOAH, Lunar & Mars monitoring, lunar calibration, Agile satellites, Agile engineering, monitoring objects in motion, imagery analysis, AI, bursty data, industry turning & transition point, Amazon Web Services, cloud architecture, server farms, anomalies have commercial value, risk management, transparency, emergency services, U.S. industry leadership.   

We started the program with my asking Scott for a definition of a term I used when introducing him, "sensor fusion."  Listen to his explanation for this term. I am sure we will hear much more about this on future Space Show program, probably even in the news.  Scott then introduced us to BlackSky and global geospatial platform monitoring with dawn-to-dusk services.  We talked about the remote sensing industry, imagery, source of information and data other than satellites, BlackSky unique satellite capabilities and the fact that they constant develop a new version just like software versions.  Each new satellite version brings great capabilities and efficiencies with their satellite and their constellation.  Our guest took the time to explain all of this in some detail.  You might want to ask him questions about all of this so do so by posting on our blog. 

Other first segment topics getting attention including industry competition with different types of competition among players, even in some instances cooperation.  We talked about their orbit which is inclined and what that meant.  We talked about their flight time over targets, what the dusk-to-dawn terminology means and how they accomplish it, plus our guest had much to say about their LEO constellation, their satellite size, onboard propulsion for limited station keeping, plus end of life strategy given their satellites are projected to have a three to five year lifespan.  Satellite manufacturing was discussed with their subsidiary company, LEO Stella, plus the fact that he said their satellite were agile and agile engineering was used in their manufacturing.

Larry from Dallas asked a change of pace question, wanting to know how their constellation was protected from jamming, radiation and such.  This was an interesting discussion you will want to hear in full but for a quick answer, he said as commercial satellites they were not protected like national security satellites.  Don't miss all of what he said on this topic, especially what he said about jamming.  We then spent some more time on the dawn-to-dusk service BlackSky provides as parts of it I did not understand nor did a few listeners so I asked our guest some questions and got great answers.  As we were preparing for the sponsor break and our move to the second segment, we talked about imagery risks including what he termed cloud risk.

We started the second segment by asking Scott if they could or would in the future plan for monitoring the Moon or Mars.  The short answer was no but listen to all of what he said on this topic.  Note that he did say they monitor the Moon at this time for calibration purposes.  He did go into detail to explain that to us. 

While not in the tags, Ft. Worth John called to find out if they could monitor looking down to see what was in the atmosphere. He was interested in seeing if their platform could be used to monitor an area of heavily reported UFO traffic (is anyone surprise by is question?) such at the Tic Tac area off the Pacific Coast.  Our guest said no but he had much to say about being able to spot things moving at fast speeds through the atmosphere.  Once again, don't miss what Scott told us in response to John's question.  John also wanted to know if the BlackSky platform could be used by those nations not able to afford their own space program, hardware, launches and such.  Scott had much to say about this with a positive answer. He also talked about his marketing efforts to nations in Africa and elsewhere before Covid stopped his international travel. 

Ben from Houston asked about signal latency.  Our guest said latency was not an issue for LEO.  Then he talked about their business motto and goal "First to Know" for the customer and what was meant by that phrase.  Going forward, we talked about time from data collection to the customer, their analysis, the use of advanced computers and AI, plus the integration of data from a variety of sources in to the analysis to give the customer what the customer wants.  Scott spent time with us describing the BlackSky process.  I asked our guest if there was a transition or turning point in time and the industry that made his business model doable.  He said there was and referenced the 2005-2006 time frame with the start of Amazon Web Services.  Scott then talked about cloud architecture. I asked about the old server farms and what was the difference with what he was describing.  Scott spent time talking to us about the evolution to cloud architecture, what it meant, the Amazon service, how it was different from old server farms and even cloud computing.  This was a great discussion so pay attention to it.  We had not heard this before on The Space show.  Scott continued talking about cloud architecture opportunities, services, new growth and much more.  He talked about emergency services, the global footprint it afforded at an affordable price and much mor. 

As I was asking our guest if we missed anything during our discussion, he talked about the industry, the need for US industry leadership and to not fall behind what the rest of the world was doing in the field. This part of our discussion was very important so don't miss it.  Share your thoughts about what Scott said by posting on our blog.

Please post your comments/questions on our blog for this show.  You can reach our guest through his website above or through me.




Geospatial Intelligence and Dawn-to-Dusk Monitoring

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31 Jul 2020 Scott Herman
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