by Laurie Scott, Andrew Ball and Ewan Lawrenson
SpaceWatch.Global asked its staff and contributors to review 2020 and provide an outlook into 2021. These personal reviews are being published during the holiday season. This is the team answer of Neuco Group – Laurie Scott, Andrew Ball and Ewan Lawrenson.
Besides Covid-19, what were the three most important events in 2020?
For us we believe that the 3 most important events of the past year have to be:
- OneWeb going into chapter 11 bankruptcy. While there have certainly been detractors, not just of OneWeb but of LEO mega constellations as a whole, it came as a surprise to many. Not only that but the reduction in their workforce of nearly 400 staff changed the landscape for recruitment in the industry overnight. It was interesting to see the way the market reacted to the news, AWS and project Kuiper hiring a large number of ex-OneWebbers for example, and will be more interesting to watch their future now that the rescue deal has been approved.
- SpaceX becoming the first private company to successfully launch NASA astronauts and safely transport them to the International Space Station. Not only is this a great step forward for the opening up of space for commercial companies but also shows great strides are being made for the future of humanity and our innate desire to explore the unexplored.
- Finally, a lot of strides have been made this year getting us closer to returning humans to the moon. On that note, it has been great to see that China have this week announced that Chang’e 5 will be returning to earth with samples taken from the moon, the first time this has been done for more than 4 decades. While not directly related to humans setting foot on the moon, it is fascinating the see that after all these years the moon still has so much more to show us and we have an awful lot to learn about the formation of Earth and the solar system and will, hopefully, keep the beacon of exploration burning for many more years to come.
What underlying trend is impacting and transforming the industry most?
We have seen the nature of communications over satellite change drastically over recent years and this is sure to continue well beyond 2020, however, this year has certainly cemented NGSO solutions as a future trend not to be dismissed as well as new utilisation cases for the technology on offer. IoT is a perfect example of this and it is exciting to watch a number of companies launching new NGSO services catering to brand new markets and verticals.
What surprised you the most, what deceived you?
What surprised us most was to hear Intelsat Filing for chapter 11, this was also the news that deceived us most. It was initially a shock to hear that one of the biggest operators was filing for bankruptcy but, in fact, the more we learnt about the decision the more we realised that it was an incredibly shrewd move for the business. Not only have they been able to drastically reduce their debt liability but have been able to do so while continuing to grow their business by bringing in new executives as well as completing the acquisition of GoGo.
Which company or entrepreneur do you consider rising star, who`s falling?
A company we consider to be a true rising start would be Relativity Space. Not only is the idea of 3D printing a launch vehicle a fascinating use of the technology on offer but also shows that the market agrees following a recent investment of $500m, which has valued the business at a staggering $2bn.
What is your most important learning and what do you want to do better next year?
The thing that this year has taught up more than anything is to continually expect the unexpected! I think we can all agree that 2020 has certainly being a trying year but it has been incredibly positive seeing the way our industry has responded to the challenge that a global pandemic has thrown at us while also being able to deliver some incredible achievements along the way. Next year we hope to be able to get back in front of our customers and partners once again and get back to travelling to events and trade shows, where sensible and appropriate.