Feb 2, 2020

Interview with Jeff Garzik, SpaceChain 


“And a space API is something that, given the right pricing, the right economic model, will enable university students to experiment with satellites in their spare time for pocket change.”

Jeff Garzik is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Bloq, Inc., a provider of enterprise blockchain solutions headquartered in Chicago. 


Key takeaways

  • The cost of rocket launch is coming down so drastically that it’s enabling new businesses that simply weren't possible before.
  • Access to space is now being democratized. There are now low-cost ways to deploy a mobile app on your phone and then talk to our servers on Earth, which talk to satellites using APIs. 
  • Rather than launching one expensive satellite, it’s now more cost-effective to launch thousands of lower-cost satellites. Even if dozens of the satellites are damaged or knocked out of orbit, they can continue to provide internet service cheaply at very high speeds to the end consumers.  


How did you get into space? 


Jeff Garzik: I'm Co-Founder and CEO of Bloq with my business partner and crypto billionaire Matthew Roszak and I started in late 2015. I have always been a computer nerd and science fiction aficionado and have always, from when I was a little boy, thought about outer space—what it's like to live in space, what it would take to get to space. My father was a fighter pilot in Vietnam and after the war, after the military, he continued working at places like White Sands Missile Range and had various connectivity into the rocket program, so we would go and watch the space shuttle launches and satellite launches down in Florida. I really love the movie The Right Stuff. My father and I watched that together several times. I'm more a Star Wars than a Star Trek person, but I love space operas and movie science fiction as well. Growing up, space was never a dystopia, it was always a more utopia—there's all this cool stuff, all this advanced technology, advanced thinking, and advanced political structures. Once we get to space, once we're a multi-planetary species, that was how most of the fiction presented leaving the planet, as the graduation of the species to a higher plane or more advanced version of safety. That, combined with computer programming since the age of 8, I've always been highly technical and wanted to know how the physics of the rockets work, about the computers that ran the Apollo space program, things of that nature. Some of that code is open source now. 


Background (Linux, Blockchain)


But I followed a software engineering trajectory through Georgia Tech, where I helped cnn.com in the early days put their website online—one of the first real live news web sites. I worked at Red Hat for over 15 years, working at the lowest layer of Linux, the Linux kernel directly under the inventor of Linux, Linus Torvalds. So my Linux work is in millions of computers all around the world—every data center, every Android phone, and a lot of traffic lights. They're all running Linux at their core, all these home routers that you get your internet from, they are running Linux kernel as its core. So I got to see how enterprise software is developed, how big customers consume software. That was a great introduction to Wall Street in high finance, because 100 percent of Wall Street banks and trading firms all run Red Hat Linux in their data centers at this point. I helped to tune the Linux kernel so that it would enable the high-frequency trading algorithms to run even faster at the network and storage layers, and then finally, I ended up working with bitcoin and blockchain. My co-founder, who's less of a humble North Carolinian than I am, likes to insist that I'm the only person in the world that is at the intersection of work directly with Linus Torvalds, the inventor of Linux, and with Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym of the inventor of Bitcoin. So I was the number three Bitcoin developer and the most active for many years before I left to start building companies instead of building software. Now I run a couple of companies, all under the Bloq label. I helped co-found and run SpaceChain [a community-based space platform that combines space and blockchain technologies to build the world’s first open-source blockchain-based satellite network] with a really dynamic young man, Zee Zheng. He and I carved out what was a 2014 idea of mine, Dunvegan Space Systems, or DSS. That was to take bitcoin to space, to build a satellite constellation as a first step in a vision to seriously wire the entire solar system for networking; putting these CubeSats around every planet in the solar system as a first step toward how we envision space settlement in near space, out on the Moon, Mars, etc. DSS really got me introduced to a lot of the new space folks—the Rick Tumlinsons of the world, the Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, that side of things. 




I took a took a pause when DSS never really saw the success that I had hoped for. In hindsight, with all the lessons I learned, I can make puns about it now. I failed to launch in the launch space that never got to space in the space. But DSS really plugged me into the new vibrancy of the commercialization of space and how we really are in a new economic frontier. The cost of rocket launch is not coming down by half, it’s coming down by 1/1000 of the previous cost, and this is enabling new businesses that simply weren't possible before. Vector and Planet Labs and SpaceX and Blue Origin and some of these others came on the scene and are fundamentally changing the economics of space as we know it. We really are at an inflection point in 2018 to 2020 with space, and the economics are going to be radically different from the big government era of spaceflight. We're going to see a lot of small companies do a lot of big things. 



“The cost of rocket launch is not coming down by half; it’s coming down by 1/1000 of the 

previous cost.”



Robert Jacobson: Could you share why having a deep space network is a benefit to society? 


Jeff: So there are a couple different networks out there. One is sort of the Greg [Wyler] and OneWeb model, or what Elon Musk and Space-X are planning, which is thousands of satellites in low earth orbit and they're linking together and that's a big technical point in a big point of current research, inter-satellite linking or ISL. They are talking to each other and they're talking to the ground at higher speeds and in more locations than any other internet provider has ever been able to reach before. So I call it the other 5 billion, as in the other 5 billion who, even as we’re running on 5G phones, they are still barely getting one G or 2G. They have the old flip phones, they're there even if they have smartphones, their mobile app experience, their experience connecting to the global village is radically different from people in the modern developed world. And so these near-earth satellites, these constellations, the economics are such that it's now for the first time really cheap to throw a bunch of hardware up in the air. Similar to in the 1990s, what I saw with Linux, is the death of the mainframe computer. It was far more cost-effective and ultimately led to far more powerful computing to wire together 100 of the cheapest PCs you can get on eBay versus a similar capacity mainframe. 


The cost was literally again like 1/1000 of the old mainframes, where these new cloud computers. And the vision for DSS and SpaceChain, and what ONELAB and SpaceX are pursuing, is this many plus T model, where you throw thousands of satellites up into the air and the launch cost and the per unit costs is very, very low and you can tolerate a significant minority of these satellites failing completely. They might get hit by micrometeorites, they might deorbit and fall to earth, but ultimately the constellation itself continues to provide internet service cheaply at very high speeds to the end consumers and they don't notice this continual recycling of satellites in the constellation. So that's one type that provides really cheap networking that really enables us to become a global village, enables emerging markets and developing countries to have the kind of internet access that we have in the developing world or developed world. And there is a deep space network, that's the second type, which is more about you really have to buy in to the argument of human settlement of space, whether it's space stations, other planets, moons etc. and that's a whole subject in and of itself but suffice to say I'm a proponent of the O'Neill type plan. I think it needs commercial development. I think humanity needs a backup plan and we're naturally explorers in a multi- planet species. So we are doing what we were built to do and the best way to continue to evolve is human settlement, so that it's all under that one label or that one bucket is why you want to wire the solar system is presumably just like they laid railroad tracks in the 1800s into new lands, you need digital railroad tracks, you need efficient lines of communication between various planetary bodies and right now, what we have is slow, government-owned, just a few large sites and it's not really built for small agile commercial start-ups, the type of which that I predict we're going to see dozens or maybe hundreds of in the next 5 years.


Robert: We're really seeing how rapidly the costs of development in the space products and services are coming down, whether it's on the launch side, whether it's electronic monetization, people will be surprised by how fast the stuff is actually going to come online.


Falling costs / lower barriers


Jeff: That's exactly right, it’s such an untold story about how much and how fast costs are dropping. The cost of getting mass to orbit is what's falling the most, so it's already cheap to build or even 3D-print a CubeSat and that's what SpaceChain has been doing. We've used off-the-shelf parts except for some key software components and we did our own chips and board. So we have some computer engineers, chip engineers that developed the custom board for the spacecraft, now all of this is easily done in the university lab. Creating a spacecraft has evolved quite a bit and it's very simple, which is sort of the point I'm trying to arrive at. A very simple, very low cost and the barrier to entry was always launch and since the cost of getting one kilogram to low Earth orbit is now in the realms of a small start-up with say $100,000 of venture capital, they can put a spacecraft into orbit. Previously, you had to be a large consortium that had hundreds of millions, maybe billions of dollars and either venture capital or debt or some combination thereof, so only a couple companies could swim in those waters. Now a small start-up funded on credit cards can compete with the big guys and that is a game changer. 


Robert: In terms of working with small spacecraft, do you find that you need to do less or different types of testing? Do you also see areas in the whole value chain getting disrupted if you're printing them and using fewer or less expensive parts and not necessarily worrying as much about all the kind of the upfront testing that would typically be required? 


Cooperation among space startups


Jeff: The overall cost approach, common off-the-shelf parts, at this point even space-hardened flight-tested hardware is essentially a sunk cost and you can get most of these parts quite cheaply. It's definitely headed toward the commodity space. So, for example, the SpaceChain approach, the satellite we launched earlier this year was all off-the-shelf except for the one board that we’re doing that is custom and so it’s not a completely custom rig each time you're going, with 90 percent off-the-shelf and 10 percent is your mission-specific hardware that you know maybe hasn't been flight-tested and that helps you quantify and draw a circle around the risk. But that's part of the economic story as well is that it's cheaper to do a flight test now, so you can do many more iterations actually in space and there's a lot of parts sharing among space start-ups. ‘I'll fly your part on my spacecraft and, and you help me out in 6 months by testing the board’ type of camaraderie and cooperation so that we're all getting the space not just once every 5 years but multiple times a year 


Robert: Being kind of a distributed organization, what type of partners or network adoption are you seeing? 


Goal of democratizing access to space 


Jeff: It’s really a grassroots approach of going straight to the developers we want to get, to the point where we have sufficient satellite to provide an API [application programming interface] that developers can literally just spend a dollar or $2.00, get a couple tokens and then use that to actuate spacecraft sensors, motors, cameras, store things on the spacecraft, store data encrypted for signed transactions on the blockchain networks So it's that sort of touchpoint where you're sitting at your home in wherever you are based and from your computer, from your laptop can talk directly to one of the satellites and a carefully controlled sandbox environment and that's part of what blockchain provides for us. The vision was always to democratize access to space and what does that mean? That means that there's some low-cost way that you can deploy a mobile app on your phone and then talk to our servers which are on Earth, which talk to the various satellites, first around Earth and then eventually around other bodies of the solar system, and talking to an API – that’s sort of programmer-speak for making a computer somewhere to do something and these APIs are really the lingua franca of the modern cloud, the modern realm. And a space API is something that, given the right pricing, the right economic model, will enable university students to experiment with satellites in their spare time for pocket change. 



“And a space API is something that, given the right pricing, the right economic model, will enable university students to experiment with satellites in their spare time for pocket change.”



Robert: That’s fantastic. It also sounds to me that you’re working on standardization


Jeff: That's right. The internet was built around standards and that's how we have for example two large companies, Cisco and Juniper, which are competitors but at the same time they speak the same protocols in the hardware that they manufacture and sell and those protocols are what allows the internet to inter-operate, what allows my Mac to talk to your Windows PC, to talk to an Android phone. And all of that is common protocols and so we want to see the same thing, SpaceChain wants to see the same thing happen in space. We have probably about five years of runway, which is a lot for a startup, but at the same time we can’t write a check and put up a multi-billion dollar constellation by ourselves and so it's all about creating a set of standards where anyone can manufacture a satellite and plug it into this shared constellation, where it's not one leader, SpaceChain, that says what happens on the network but it's multiple owners that sort of form a consensus about what can and can happen on the network, what capabilities are in that network. That's how the internet was built. 


Robert: Are you finding any difficulties with security issues, around ITAR [International Traffic in Arms Regulations] for example? 


Jeff: I am absolutely very familiar with ITAR. I like to check the checkbox of having the first open source satellite and what that means is that the satellite design that we funded and performed several design reviews with outside firms on for the bitcoin node in space that DSS was pursuing. This satellite design, we had to get the approval of Department of State, Department of Commerce to publish it on the web in its entirety. And you know obviously anyone, even from potentially sanctioned countries, can download the satellite design and so that was very definitely a concern but again we use off-the-shelf parts, these are not highly advanced technology, I like to call it a laptop in space, essentially a CubeSat is a computer in space, it's radiation-hardened and uses proven hardware but essentially it's a computer in space and you know luckily, my home is the land of innovation and I think that government regulators are pro-innovation and they see the value in the commercialization of space so we were able to get the clearance letters we needed and we posted that satellite design in its entirety on our website where it is to this day. So ITAR is definitely a hurdle and I think that there might be more protectionism in our future, which obviously sort of runs counter to SpaceChain’s ideal of international consensus across major world powers, as well as small and midsize countries. 


Robert: So on that first iteration, would the satellite that you intended, was that essentially going crunch the numbers for proof of work for people's bitcoin? What was the intention there? 


Turning satellites into computers


Jeff: Well, the crunching numbers part is called a miner, like a coal miner or gold miner and that's far too power-intensive to put in the satellite unless you have like a plutonium R.P.G. or something like that, so that's not really feasible but a node in a blockchain is a kind of like an auditor. What a node is, is it validates all the data it receives, it does not trust the data received from another satellite, from the ground, whatever source, it validates it based on digital signatures and other cryptographic keys that it has on the satellite and only if that validation happens does it input the new data, input the new money changes, transaction or ledger changes etc. So it is more than cold storage, it is actually performing the useful work in space on the satellite itself, this cryptographic validation and that's what's new. Previously, satellites have been more like TV signal goes up, TV signal comes down, radio signal goes up, radio signal goes down. It's very much a telecom-based approach, and what's new is turning the satellites into computers that actually do useful work in space and this cold storage is one of many use cases. Cryptographic validation of these ledgers having a check and balance on what goes on, on the ground is one of the things that interests blockchain people. 


Robert: What was your choice around the technology that you're using? Quantum


Jeff: Sure, so that's one of these blockchain variants that does not require the power-intensive mining that I just described. Here on earth, on the ground, Bitcoin is secured by highly specialized computers that literally fill data centers all over the world and they're just sitting there crunching this one number, this one puzzle over and over and over again, trillions of times a second and that was way too expensive power-wise as I mentioned for space-based applications. Well Quantum is a technology that uses something called proof-of-stake that essentially you put up something like a bond, you commit some money, some economic resources, you can lock it up for a little while and then you get it back. And the act of doing that, the committing of some real money to securing the ledger is a different way of securing blockchains and that's what Quantum uses, this proof-of-stake consensus technology. And that was much more applicable to space-based applications. 


Robert: So you're actually in this intersection of new economics and technology. 



Value in blockchain capabilities -- security and ‘strings attached’


Jeff Garzik: That's right. We can talk all day about blockchain the technology, but one of the aspects is that blockchain provides security for money and it provides some new shapes of money. For the first time in thousands of years, money can come with strings attached. Money comes with strings attached, of course in say federal grants and things like this. With blockchain technology, you can attach some tiny computer programs to each Bitcoin or each Ethereum and these can be arbitrarily complex rules for how you can spend that money. Specifically, the simple case is I provide this digital signature and I can spin this bitcoin. That's the simple case and that's what most people use today. A more complex case is something called smart contracts, where it’s similar to an English language contract but really written in a language only a computer would love. Let's say you and I are on the board of directors of a charity, the smart contract would be the one who acts as the treasurer of the charity. If you and I agree that we spend some of the charity's funds on a particular philanthropic endeavor, then the treasurer transfers those funds to the blockchain technology. If we don't agree, then the funds don't get transferred and the notable part in that whole transaction is that neither you nor I can just stick our hands in the cookie jar and embezzle funds and spend funds in a way that's not prescribed. It's like a banker who always dots his Is and crosses his Ts and makes you follow the rules to the letter and that's a very, very interesting potential for space. You can have space-based businesses where some of the capital, the investment capital or the capital expenditures, are doled out through these smart contracts. So potentially someone like X Prize could dole out specific milestones for any company that builds the first apartment building on the moon. You can dole out funds for specific ride shares and then you fractionalized a rocket launch and sell it to 1,000 investors and when that rocket launch makes a profit, those 1,000 investors, quite legally according to all securities laws, get a share of the investment profits. So all of this is enabled in the back-end by this new plumbing, this re-plumbing of economics by blockchain technology and smart contracts. So it's I know that's probably a lot of word soup for readers and a bit complex to grasp but it is reinventing money. 


“We can talk all day about blockchain the technology, but one of the aspects is that blockchain provides security for money and it provides some new shapes of money. For the first time in thousands of years, money can come with strings attached.”




Robert: I love this idea fractionalized ownership and even fractionalized services. It's quite compelling. Have you heard of anyone trying to put together a smart contract for a launch? 


Jeff: No, not yet. That's one of the ideas that we'd like to see happen. We are seeing some efforts this year with security tokens, which are regulated equity-style blockchain tokens to fractionalize space missions. So I think you'll see in the next 6 to 12 months some space STOs, that’s security token offering. It’s kind of like an IPO, a mini IPO for a single space mission, like an asteroid sample return mission. 


Robert: And I could see that also working not just for for-profit exploration missions or exploratory non-profit missions, but for pure science, for people who always said, ‘well gosh I wish I could choose where my money goes’ and then if a group said ‘hey, we've got this project going to Titan,’ they could actually rally sufficient funding. That would be pretty interesting. 


Jeff: Absolutely and when anyone with the scientific qualifications can propose a mission, things get pretty interesting. 


Self-funded missions 


Robert: There’s a group out in Washington state and they want to do some private interplanetary missions. It’s all self-funded, at this point, it's kind of interesting, but it's still very nascent. 


Jeff: Yeah, you're going to see pop-up efforts like that increase in frequency. Planet Labs and Vector are going to start going to space. Planet Labs had a real big success recently, with their first official payload. So the cost is going to fall, and these start-ups, it’s not even going to have to be a group of millionaires doing this stuff. It can be a group of buddies with $25,000 credit card limits, they're the ones who are going to be sending the interesting projects to space. 


Robert: What would you recommend to somebody who's thinking of getting into the business of space from the entrepreneurial side, in terms of how to find that customer, that product market fit? 


New niches, new customers


Jeff: I would say that things are changing so quickly that the only thing you can be sure of is that the old reliable customer, meaning a large government, is no longer the old reliable customer. And so it's going to need to be far more creative. We have people who are exploring business plans that fuse industrial assembly-type techniques with zero gravity and low earth orbit, people that fuse art and space, people like us who want to fuse software and money and financial technology and space. So it's going to be the proverbial long tail of the web that we are going to see, repeating the pattern in space. We're going to see a large number of small businesses that really find their niche and hit their niche and so like with any business, it’s about focusing and not trying to boil the ocean as it were, trying to chase every customer and every vertical and every micro-segment of the space market. You'll do well by focusing and hitting that mark, but it's going to be new products and new markets. The old products are too expensive and the old markets are drying up. So that's how much the landscape is shifting. But the good news is that it's going to be a lower cost, volume-type market rather than a hit or miss multibillion-dollar contract once every 5 years. 



“I would say that things are changing so quickly that the only thing you can be sure of is that the old reliable customer, meaning a large government, is no longer the old reliable customer.”




Robert: And then speaking to people who are part of the evolving finance landscape, what would you share to them about getting in on deals? 


Jeff: Well, I think that knowledge is always power, and in this case, if you're say a family office or an institutional, it's going to be a lot of legwork to pick a fund and then you enter as an LP and that's what a lot of money is tuned for. And so you just have to engage in a lot more legwork because the space funds these days are few and far between and small. There are some space hedge funds that are spinning up and a couple new funds have been announced in 2018 but having been on both sides of the table, there's not a lot of space investment infrastructure right now. There's Space Angels and a couple of private networks and that's really it. So comparing this to say, enterprise software or mobile apps or something where there are hundreds of VC firms that are very familiar with those particular industries and they have whole teams devoted to microparsing every aspect of it, with fewer space funds, they have to go broad and they have quality metrics of course for investments and portfolio companies, but at the same time the funds just to meet their mandate, maybe there they invest in start-ups that may be in the market with more start-ups they wouldn't invest in just because the pickings are slim right now. So I'd say it's a good time to enter if you're a CEO, a good time to enter if you want to create a new fund and have that knowledge advantage over other funds. If you're an investor, I would say that you're still going to have outside returns by doing direct research into the portfolio companies themselves. But like I said, sometimes the institution or the family office is the really big money and those ‘I can't write a check smaller than $25 million’ type places, they just can't afford to do a ton of research into the portfolio codes and so it's more fund research and the sector in general and I think that there are a lot of entry points for that institutional money that are coming online but there's also a lot of opportunity. As you know, the more you know, the better your investing is, and there are some really, really good plays coming online now. 


Robert: There are a few funds that have been announced that have been space-focused, and I'm trying to get my head around it. One interesting idea is where they're going to call crowdsourcing investors into their coin and then the partners will fund investment to invest that coin. But I also see the potential problems for dubious activities and or the coin basically starting to look more like a penny stock. Do you see any checks and balances that can be put in place for these sorts of activities to sort of mitigate some of that risk


Jeff: Yeah that's that security token stuff that I referenced earlier. Those checks and balances are coming online and right now. As the industry matures, it sees some bad actors over here or here’s some potential for some bad acting, so let's put a regulatory framework in place. If it looks like a security, it smells like a security, it falls under a certain regulatory regime and you need to make filings to the FCC or whatever your jurisdiction is if non-US. That's what the story of 2018 has really been. The utility token market has sunk and a lot of these ICOs have gone under and what's arising in its place are these more-regulated, ‘they have to have audited filings’ type of arrangements that you see in the public companies every day on Nasdaq in the New York Stock Exchange. So I think that regulatory swing has been pretty much the story of 2018. 


Robert: Is there anything else you would like to share, in terms of your vision for the sector, highlights, benefits, takeaways? 


Economic changes in the sector

The way satellites work (evolution) - AI


Jeff: Sure, well the biggest highlight is that economic change, the old players are getting out, new players are getting in, costs are falling through the floor and so there's really never been a better time to get into space travel, space business, space science. So I've never been more excited than I am right now for space as an industry, and as a space enthusiast and activist. Really, the economics drive everything in this world. If it's too expensive, it's not going to happen, if it's cheap enough, it is going to happen. With the cost falling through the floor, people around the world are going to be enabled and empowered in new ways. So that was always the motivation, the headline and the biggest point of interest. The more focused point that’s interesting is that we are changing the way satellites work. Traditionally, satellites just bounce signals around, they are repeaters and now they're becoming computers in space. That opens the door to AI and autonomous entities, which is very science fiction-y. If you think about drones flying around your local park, well now you have space drones and even on the Dunvegan Space Systems Twitter, we tweeted an engineer's rendering of a potential nano-tug, sort of a space tug that would, as a drone, reposition satellites in orbit. So AI and drones are coming to space. Sadly, there's a little bit of nationalism coming to space. We're getting, in the United States, the Space Force and we will eventually see weapons in low Earth orbit and we will have to deal with those. But in general, I really think that just like previous space programs have unlocked so much economic activity, new innovation, new developments during the Apollo programs, the space shuttle programs and all of that trickles back to everything that we do in our modern lives. We wouldn't have mobile phones and these tiny supercomputers in our pockets if it wasn't for the space program. So it's what we don't see around the corner but what will be an outcome of space exploration and space technology. It really is going to help us live longer healthier better lives. 


Robert: It's really an incredible time we live in. Apollo was before my time, but we can definitely remember the space shuttles. We’re at this transition point with all these really fantastic enabling technologies, with the driver of economics, I see a fantastic near-future for us, for the space sector, including so many benefits for people on earth, whether it's a farmer or whoever. They don't have to be in space to get the benefits of it and I think that's a beautiful thing. 


Benefits to other industries


Jeff: That's exactly right. I grew up in eastern North Carolina, there’s a lot of agriculture, and my very first job was something called a crop scout, where I would walk through fields, usually a cotton field, sometimes soybeans, peanuts, tobacco, corn. I’d walk through a field and I would measure the crops, I would look for bugs. Basically, you’re are just sort of wandering around the field doing statistical sampling and we would write all this data on little 3 by 5 index cards and our boss, the business owner, would take those index cards and input it into an MS-DOS Paradox database. that's ancient 1980s technology and he would give that info to farmers and they would know whether to spray for bugs or not, or maybe only spray in one part of the field and not the rest of the field, so that saves money and reduces chemicals on the crops due to our efforts. That same application, my very, very first job ever this crop scout, that can now be done through the application of space technology. Higher resolution cameras, ultraviolet and infrared cameras, they can pinpoint pests in a particular field, they can measure the height of the crops, they can really do all of the sampling from space that I had to get muddy and walk around North Carolina fields doing in the late 1980s. So it's yet another example, since you mentioned farmers, of real-world applications of this advanced space technology. 


Robert: Just think about the mobile phone. We essentially have supercomputers in our pocket. When I heard about putting the first mobile phone in space, I thought, well, that’s kind of quaint, but really, why not put a phone in space. We can just essentially have smaller spacecraft that are a lot less expensive and they have tremendous performance characteristics, so maybe we don't need to always have the 500 million dollar satellite, of course they will have there's a place for that you know the DOD and the Defence and Intelligence communities but if you can just aggregate a bunch of small computers, why not. 


Quick, small, nimble


Jeff: Absolutely and even the military is going to the many plus cheap approach. They're still spending tens and hundreds of millions on satellites, but that's down from the billions and they can have a forest of satellites up in space providing real-time battle data for pick your particular battlefield. I can't repeat the country, but that was used in one recent conflict in the past 20 years. The US military did not have coverage over a particular battle space and the cheapest and quickest and most effective way to get better pictures of this country was to launch a bunch of cheap Cubesats. But it's all about being quick, small, nimble. On-demand, just-in-time production type principles that apply to software are increasingly applying to hardware with 3D printing and rapid assembly of off-the-shelf parts. 

Jeff Garzik  reminds that with decrease in costs to access space, new businesses are becoming possible that were not available before.For more entrepreneurial insights, visit RobertJacobson.com

Disclosure: SpaceChain was a financial sponsor of Robert Jacobson's book, Space Is Open For Business

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