COVID-19 and the space industry
COVID-19 and the space industry
News, insights and resources about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the space industry, and how companies are responding to the challenges.
The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented impact on people, communities, businesses, and industries all over the world.
The space industry is no exception and we are regularly speaking to organizations around the globe dealing with different aspects of the outbreak.
Below are some resources we’ve aggregated to help people and organizations within the space industry navigate this crisis. Additionally, we’ve also collected resources for those outside the sector, seeking to understand what the impact is on the space industry and how the sector can help combat the global pandemic.
We’ll be regularly updating this page and we welcome your suggestions. Just drop us an email with your ideas or feedback.
The effects of COVID-19 on the space industry
One of the most high profile space business casualties during the pandemic is OneWeb, the global internet company and parent business of constellation manufacturer OneWeb Satellites.
OneWeb filed for bankruptcy on the 27th of March and while OneWeb Satellites remains operational there are reports it has furloughed a number of employees. In this article, our COO Narayan Prasad discussed what could happen next to OneWeb Satellites’ supply chain if the constellation development doesn’t move forward.
To try and gain a deeper understanding of current opinions and attitudes in the space sector to the short-medium term impact of the outbreak, we surveyed over 150 people around the world.
Responses came in from businesses, academia, agencies, consultants and other industry stakeholders based in 29 different countries. The results showed that there is widespread concern about what might happen next in the sector, though there are some areas of optimism.
The article explains that industry analysts Quilty Analytics believe that a freeze in funding due to the pandemic could see many companies shut down, though they are bullish on the sector's potential for the long term.
How the space industry is responding to the pandemic
Many space industry groups, businesses, and agencies are contributing to initiatives to support healthcare organizations and communities in their response to the outbreak. Here are some of the efforts underway:
Agencies & Governmental Organizations
An article showcasing various other projects that NASA scientists and engineers have developed to combat the pandemic, including positive pressure helmets and decontamination systems.
ESA has initiated a number of calls for proposals to tackle the COVID-19 global pandemic. Here are some of the open, general and specific tenders:
- AO9101 - EO SCIENCE FOR SOCIETY PERMANENTLY OPEN CALL FOR PROPOSALS EOEP-5 BLOCK 4 - This is a permanently open call within the EO Science for Society element that includes the opportunity for bidders to submit proposals that leverage EO data for the pandemic response.
- AO10314 - BASS AO: SPACE IN RESPONSE TO COVID-19 OUTBREAK - This Announcement of Opportunity (AO), originated from the collaboration agreement between the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitization (MID), has the scope of supporting citizens and communities that are facing the extraordinary consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. [Closing Date: 14/05/2020 13:00:00]
- AO10336 - SPACE HELPING UK ON COVID-19 AND OTHER PANDEMICS - To support the fight against COVID-19 and mitigate the adverse effects of the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the unprecedented associated impact this has on daily life worldwide, ESA, in collaboration with the UK Space Agency (UKSA), is leveraging existing tools, such as the Business Applications-Space Solutions programme, to release a dedicated call to support the fight against this major virus outbreak. [Closing Date: 15/10/2020 13:00:00]
The Global Hack, organized by Garage48 and sponsored by ESA's business incubation centre in Estonia, saw more than 12,000 people in over 100 countries compete with ideas to address aspects of the pandemic. The winner was a German startup called SunCrafter who designed an ultraviolet hand disinfection station made from repurposed upcycled solar cells.
A funding drive to fund space-enabled technology and services that can strengthen the NHS response to coronavirus, launched on the 14th of April 2020.
A fast-tracked call for proposals for projects that utilize astronomy, and related tools, methodologies, skills, etc. to help mitigate the impact of the global pandemic.
Several of the larger space companies are using some of their capacity and expertise to help healthcare providers and governments address the pandemic:
- Blue Origin is 3D printing visors for protective face shields.
- SpaceX has built face shields and is planning to develop CDC-compliant hand sanitizer. The sister company Tesla is also using automotive 3D printers to create ventilator parts.
- Virgin Orbit is prototyping and testing ventilators for hospitals in the US.
- United Launch Alliance (ULA) are also 3D printing components for face shields and ventilators.
The well-known in-orbit manufacturing company is using its 3D printing capabilities to develop face masks for hospitals in the US.
We are in the process of building a global directory of competences, resources and skills being made available by space space companies around the world to support the pandemic response. If you'd like to include your organization in this directory please fill out this short form.
We'll update this section with more information about the directory soon.
- How will COVID-19 impact the space industry? - Wednesday 29th April.
- Ready to Fight: How the Space Industry is Leading the Charge to Combat COVID-19 - Wednesday 29th April.
- COVID-19: What does this mean for the fight against climate change? - Thursday 30th April.
Further reading and useful sources of insights for space industry leaders:
- MITSloan Management Review - expert insights and strategies for managers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Is It Time to Rethink Globalized Supply Chains? - a very useful article from the resource listed above that discusses the net effect of globalized supply chains and the need for greater resiliency.
- The Coronavirus and The Space Industry — What the Space Industry Can Do to Help on Earth - an important analysis of how space is connected to the rest of the global economy, and how that plays out for the industry in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Satellite Industry in the Time of COVID-19 - a breakdown of the impact of the global pandemic on different space segments, and steps being taken in response by industry players.
- Space in Africa - insights into the impact of COVID-19 on the space industry across the African continent, with input from government officials & business owners.
This is a truly stressful time for people all across the globe. In times of need, it is of paramount importance that communities come together. This page is intended to serve as a community resource to help those within the space industry and those outside the sector navigate the global crisis. The satsearch team is committed to supporting individuals and organizations impacted by COVID-19. We will continuously update this page to best reflect the resources that we have come across to support the pandemic response.
We welcome any additions to this page. We would also love to hear your thoughts, feedbacks and suggestions to better serve our audience. Please email us with any input and don't hesitate to contact us if we can help you out in any way.
Take care of yourself and those around you.