(USA and Canada) When Space Force was founded in 2019, it’s unlikely that the average civilian knew it would have anything to do with Big Data. But according to Col. Miguel Cruz, Space Delta 4 Commander, talking to CNN, “The standard American people will probably use space 20 to 30 times between the moment they get up to the moment they have breakfast.”
The United States currently has over 2500 satellites revolving around the earth that handle diverse data streams that impact our everyday lives. It involves GPS data, weather information, national security, and helping us connect to the internet. The sheer amount of data that is bouncing around in space is staggering. In 2016, NASA alone was estimated to generate 12.1 terabytes of data daily from various sensors.
As satellites get cheaper and more sophisticated, more and more businesses are using satellite tech to grow. Amazon has Project Kuiper, a mega-constellation of 3,236 satellites that will deliver high-speed broadband internet. Starlink, Elon Musk’s competing SpaceX satellite constellation, has 1700. More companies are following, with the number of satellites in space in 2020 increasing by 36% from the year prior. It’s about to get very crowded out in space.
But Americans are not the only ones interested in both space and Big Data. Both China and Russia have designed weapons to knock U.S. satellites out of orbit while also sending their own competing satellites into space. While the hope remains for the final frontier to stay peaceful, Space Force plans to be ready for anything.
Space Force recently released a document in May of 2021 that presented its vision statement for the branch. The goal is to protect American interests from international threats, using a “sophisticated, data-infused user-defined operational picture that is capable of fusing and presenting multi-source intelligence.”
The branch plans to spend billions of dollars over the next ten years to build the architecture necessary to streamline and analyze the data from thousands of satellites. Currently, much of the data that Space Force monitors is manually entered from different datasets. It’s simply not efficient. They are also recruiting “supra coders” that can use artificial intelligence and data science, as well as its own cyber protection teams.
In a press call, Chief of Space Operations, General John W. Raymond said, “The establishment of the U.S. Space Force gives us a generational opportunity to create a service that is purpose-built for a very unique operating environment. And when you think about our strategic competitors and the threats that we currently face, becoming a digital service is much more than an opportunity ― it’s a necessity.”