Emerging Technologies SIG series – What is Space Technology and how it is relevant outside of Space?

To provide additional information related to the Emerging Technologies SIG of the FINOS/Linux Foundation, I start a miniseries of posts going deeper into some of the technologies mentioned there. If you are interested in participating, please add your remarks at the Special Interest Group – Emerging Technologies item on the FINOS project board.

Space technology has advanced tremendously over the past few decades and has become an essential tool for many industries. From satellite communications to weather forecasting, space technology has significantly impacted many sectors outside of the space industry. In this article, we will explore the relevance of space technology in various industries and look at some examples and case studies.


One of the most significant contributions of space technology to industries outside of space is in the field of communication. Satellites have revolutionized communication by making it possible to connect people across the globe. The use of satellites has enabled the provision of internet services, global positioning systems (GPS), and satellite phones. In remote areas where traditional communication methods are not available, satellite communication has become a critical tool for many industries.

Example: The Iridium satellite constellation is an excellent example of how space technology has impacted communication. The constellation consists of 66 satellites that provide voice and data communication services globally. The system has been used in several industries, including aviation, maritime, and government.


Space technology has also made significant contributions to the agricultural industry. It has enabled farmers to monitor crop growth, soil moisture, and weather patterns, leading to improved crop yields and reduced costs.

Example: The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Sentinel-2 satellite constellation is a prime example of space technology’s impact on agriculture. The satellites provide high-resolution imagery of agricultural land, which enables farmers to monitor their crops’ growth and health. This information helps farmers make better decisions on when to plant, water, and harvest their crops.

Disaster Management

Space technology has proven to be an essential tool in disaster management. Satellites provide crucial information that helps emergency responders make informed decisions during natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and wildfires.

Example: During the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, satellite imagery was used to assess the damage and identify areas that required emergency assistance. This information was crucial in guiding the rescue and relief efforts.


The use of space technology has also led to significant advancements in the transportation industry. Satellite data is used to monitor and manage traffic flow, improving road safety and reducing travel time.

Example: The global positioning system (GPS) is an excellent example of how space technology has impacted the transportation industry. GPS is used in navigation systems in cars, ships, and airplanes, making it easier for people to navigate and reach their destination.


Space technology has also contributed to the energy industry. Satellites provide data that helps energy companies locate new sources of energy and monitor their operations.

Example: The NASA Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS) provides data that helps energy companies monitor their operations. The system provides data on land cover, vegetation, and weather patterns that help energy companies manage their operations effectively.

Space technology has made significant contributions to industries outside of the space industry. From communication to disaster management, the use of satellites has revolutionized various industries, improving efficiency, and reducing costs. The examples and case studies mentioned above show how space technology has made a positive impact on many industries. As technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how space technology will continue to shape the future of these industries. So, you can probably understand why I wrote about digital twinning, 4D printing, even neural links before – but why space tech?

What about the financial industry?

Space technology has also impacted the finance industry in significant ways. Satellites are being used to provide critical data that helps financial institutions to make informed decisions on investments and risk management. The use of satellite technology has also led to the development of new financial products.

The use of satellite imagery and data has led to the development of crop insurance products for farmers. Insurance companies are using satellite imagery to assess crop yields and losses, which enables them to provide crop insurance products to farmers. This information helps farmers manage their risks and protect their investments.

Another example is the use of satellite data to track economic activity. Satellites can provide information on shipping, transportation, and manufacturing activities, which is useful in making investment decisions. Hedge funds and asset managers are using satellite data to gain insights into economic activity, giving them an edge in the market.

Space technology is also used in the banking sector. Banks are using satellite imagery and data to assess the risk of lending to certain areas. The data can provide insights into natural disasters, land use, and infrastructure, which is useful in assessing the risk of lending to a particular area.

In conclusion, space technology has revolutionized the finance industry, providing critical data that is useful in making investment decisions and managing risks. The use of satellite data is expected to increase as the technology continues to evolve, leading to the development of new financial products and services. The finance industry is just one example of how space technology is impacting various industries, and it is exciting to see how it will shape the future.

What does the future hold?

And again, not everything is in pink clouds 🙂 While space technology has made significant contributions to various industries, there are still some limitations and shortcomings that need to be addressed. Here are some of the current limitations and how they are being mitigated:

Cost: One of the main limitations of space technology is the cost associated with building, launching, and maintaining satellites. The cost of building and launching a satellite can be in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars, making it difficult for some industries to afford.

Mitigation: One way to mitigate the cost is through partnerships and collaborations. Several companies are partnering to share the cost of building and launching satellites. There is also a trend towards smaller, cheaper satellites, known as CubeSats, which are easier to build and launch. The use of reusable rockets, such as those developed by SpaceX, can also reduce the cost of launching satellites.

Technology Limitations: Space technology is continually evolving, and there are still some technological limitations that need to be addressed. For example, the current satellite communication technology has limitations in terms of bandwidth and speed.

Mitigation: The development of new technologies, such as quantum communication, could overcome some of these limitations. Quantum communication is a secure and fast method of communication that uses the principles of quantum mechanics.

Orbital Debris: The amount of space debris in orbit is increasing, which poses a threat to the operation of satellites and spacecraft. Orbital debris can collide with satellites, causing damage and potentially leading to the loss of the satellite.

Mitigation: Efforts are underway to mitigate the amount of space debris. Satellites are being designed with built-in propulsion systems that can help them avoid collisions. There are also initiatives to remove space debris from orbit, such as the European Space Agency’s Clean Space Initiative.

Data Security: The data transmitted through satellites is vulnerable to interception and hacking, which can pose a security threat to industries that rely on satellite technology.

Mitigation: The use of encryption and other security measures can mitigate the risk of data interception and hacking. There are also efforts to develop secure satellite communication systems, such as quantum communication, which are highly resistant to hacking.

In conclusion, while space technology has made significant contributions to various industries, there are still limitations and shortcomings that need to be addressed. Efforts are underway to mitigate these limitations through partnerships, the development of new technologies, and initiatives to reduce space debris and improve data security. As technology continues to evolve, it is expected that these limitations will be addressed, leading to further advancements in space technology and its impact on various industries. 

One thought on “Emerging Technologies SIG series – What is Space Technology and how it is relevant outside of Space?

  1. Couple of other things to consider!
    Currently, satellites are used to coordinate universal time for trading which is what we rely on for the ordering of transactions on exchanges as well as with decentralised ledgers. In the UK the National Physics Laboratory work with the London Stock Exchange group to coordinate the exchange’s time with satellite technology coupled with atomic clocks, giving timings that are always accurate and reliable. This will become more of an issue when we start doing transactions off-world, but that’s tomorrows headache!
    Speaking of off-world transactions, one of the reasons we might want to pursue that is the potential for off-world mining. Hydrogen mining on the lunar surface as well as potential prospecting rights for Mars and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter will have a cataclysmic impact onto the commodities markets of the future. The abundance of materials that are exceptionally scarce on Earth, such as rare earth metals or precious metals, does not exist in space (where we originally got our from in the form of pre-historic meteors!). For example, there is an asteroid in the belt between Jupiter and Mars with a value of several quintillion dollars worth of Gold and Platinum which, if brought to Earth, could decimate fiat currency! The potentials for future technological developments is going to be eclipsed by the potential governance and economic impact we’d need to figure out in advance for these commodities and what cross-border trading involving sovereign nations in space even looks like… A definite conversation starter between Finance, Tech and Engineering!

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