SPACE TALKS with Lauri Kimmel: cybersecurity, satellites and startups.

Welcome to another episode of Space Talks brought to you by Garage48, hosted by our long time mentor and space enthusiast - Kai Isand. Our guest is Lauri Kimmel, Co-Founder and CTO at Spaceit - a space tech company offering Mission Control as a Service, a single platform for satellite operations and ground station services.

Space talks are a series of interviews with influential people in the space sector to inspire ideas and motivate participants of SPACETECH EUROPE Online Hackathon. 

Spacetech Europe Online Hackathon will take place on 3-5th December. Read more HERE. 🚀

Journey in space and Spaceit

Lauri’s journey in space started in 2010 when he joined CGI Estonia and started working on different projects for the European Space Agency. In 2013, he participated in Mission Control System development and was a member of the satellite launch team of the ESTCube-1.

In 2015 Lauri with his friends founded Spaceit which is offering mission control services for the satellites.

“When you have a satellite, you need software to communicate with your satellite, monitor it and control it, all of it is done on ground by the people, for that you need software and connection to the ground stations which basically are antennas and radio transceivers.”

Today Spaceit is developing its own product and has signed several agreements with the European Space agency. Since 2020 Spaceit has been participating in several cybersecurity activities.

Spaceit is hiring! Check out the opportunities.

What is exciting about working in spacetech?

Working in Space is not so different compared to the IT development on the ground. It is still needed to move data around, secure it, ensure that data ends up at the right place and is not visible to anyone from the outside, which is very similar to the work we do on the ground.

Interesting part about working in space is the communication with the satellites. When establishing a communication with the satellites, you have quite limited opportunities at the moment. If you have one ground station and one satellite, you have around 1 hour of communication per day. When you expand your ground station around the globe then you have more communication opportunities but it is more work to operate the ground station, so the process has a lot of space for optimization.

Visualize what would happen if all satellite communication would disappear one day. This helps realize what we are actually doing in space, see other opportunities and how important space is for our life on Earth.

Space sector in the next 10 years

Space used to be a playground for big countries and agencies and it is still opening up in some ways. We have many ways to improve our space ecosystem and there will be changes in the upcoming years, but it is hard to predict what exactly will happen.

However, some global trends are already visible. Downstream business - working with the data from satellites, will find a new way to utilize data from space. There will be more missions, satellites in space. Which means that there will be more space debris around in 10 years and that is a very pressing issue.

Space challenges to look into

Cybersecurity in space definitely is a big challenge at the moment. Not all decision makers think about security as much as they should.

 “We have seen missions and companies that don’t do mission control, a lot of focus is on the security pre launch, but not that many think about what happens after launch, all of the vulnerabilities of the communication, etc.“

Security in space is no different from any security on the ground. To secure your data transmission, data storage and testing, you have to make sure that only authorised personnel are able to communicate with your satellite and send commands to your satellite.

One thing which is particular for space, if your satellite is taken over by a bad actor you're still reliable for the satellite. It is your responsibility for what your satellite is doing even if you are not in control. That’s why it is important to have processes in place and take back control when someone is trying to attack your satellite.

“Even if you have the most secure satellite and you are doing everything right, you are still not protected from other satellites. It is like driving, you could be a careful driver and still get into an accident.”

Why join a hackathon?

There are obviously many benefits in joining a hackathon and Lauri outlined the two main ones for him:

  • Meeting new people: it is always good to take part in hackathons to meet new people, you’ll never know who you’ll meet.

  • Learning new things: you work in your small world, then all of a sudden you see a lot more people working on different things. Tackling the same problem, but in different ways.

Tips for the participants:

  • Take a Monday off if you can, hackathon is a very intense weekend.

  • It is good if you come to the hackathon with something more than an idea. Sometimes it is hard to find the right people on the spot, make pre-arrangements and ensure that you have support already.

  • Do your research, brainstorm what you want to achieve in these 48 hours.

See you at the hackathon! 🚀


Watch the full interview👇

About the author

tamara bezljudova

Tamara is the CMO at Garage48, her dog Luni is her biggest personality trait. She cares about the Garage48 mission and writes about the impact events make on global and local communities. Want to get featured? Contact her! 💁🏻‍♀️

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