Lonestar Data Holdings, based in St. Petersburg, Fla., is closing $5 million in seed funding toward its goal of creating the ultimate in data-storage disaster recovery — with server farms located in lava tubes on the Moon.
The company has signed contracts to launch prototype demonstrations of its capabilities aboard lunar landers by the end of 2022. Lonestar will run a software-only test, storing a small big of data on an Intuitive Machines lander under NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services program. The mission is expected to last one lunar day, or two Earth weeks.
Lena Okajima, founder of Japanese startup ALE, dreams about creating manmade shooting stars as a form of mass entertainment and scientific research, reports Japan Brandvoice in Forbes.
Okajima, who earned a PhD in astronomy at the University of Tokyo and worked at Goldman Sachs for a year, began researching the idea in 2009 after witnessing the Leonids meteor shower. Today ALE has about 30 staff and has raised some $26 million from Hong Kong-based Horizons Ventures and other investors.
ALE has developed microsatellites that will release 1-centimeter particles that will ignite as they move through the atmosphere. Up to 20 particles will burn in different colors, and the display will be visible on the ground within an area measuring 200 kilometers across — much large than the typical 10 kilometers for fireworks. The shooting stars can be deployed anywhere in the world.
“Our shooting stars can last longer than natural ones because they may be slower,” says Okajima. “It will be entertainment on an unprecedented scale.”
ALE is preparing for its first near-space testing with a rocket launch from New Zealand. In the meantime, ALE is developing another business — gathering information about the mesosphere (which lies between the thermosphere and the stratosphere) — and working with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on a satellite tether system to mitigate the growing problem of space debris.
Among the clients ALE hopes to work with: theme parks, cruise lines, and large-scale event organizers.
As the cost declines of launching Earth-observing satellites into orbit, space enterprises hope to grow the market for the sale of space-based data. So far, customers have been limited mainly to government customers and sophisticated, high-paying users like oil & gas companies. The market potential could grow to $7 billion from about $3 billion, North Sky Research senior analyst Dallas Kasaboski told Axios.
Some of the companies active in this arena include:
Planet. With 150 satellites in orbit, Planet can image anywhere on Earth’s landmass at 3- to 5-meter resolution on a daily basis. “Our goal to make satellite imagery universally useful to everyone by indexing the objects in every image and developing a database of not just images, but the physical objects in those images,” said a Planet spokesperson. As a concrete example, the Planet website shows the progress of reconstruction of the Oroville Dam emergency spillway after damage from heavy winter rain.
Spire. Spire analyzes its own data for customers interested in weather systems, resource management and other applications. One application described by the corporate website is using satellite data to manage ocean-going vessels and plan better routes.
Hyergiant. By bringing all elements under one roof — design/build, license/test, launch/deploy, operate, and replenish — Hyergiant’s Galactic Systems division can provide what it calls Constellation-as-a-Service and deliver space-derived data.
SpaceVR, a San Francisco, Calif.-based virtual reality company, wants to bring solar-system exploration to Earth by using modified GroPro cameras to capture and convey immersive, 3D views from the Space Station. In time, the startup hopes to capture the entire astronaut experience, reports Space.com, from training to launch to spacewalks.Ultimately, the aspiration is to put VR cameras aboard missions to the Moon, asteroids, Mars, and Jupiter.
“We want to take space exploration where it was meant to go — the whole planet experiencing it together,” said SpaceVR co-founder and chief technical officer Isaac De Souza. “When people take their first steps on Mars, there should be a SpaceVR camera there to watch.”
As of Aug. 17, 2015, the company’s crowdfunding effort had raised about $38,000 out of $500,000 needed to put cameras on the space station and cover the first year of operations.