Redefining GSaaS: Ground Software as a Service™

The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is ubiquitous. These days, it would be difficult to count on one hand the number of SaaS tools that we interact with every day. Increasingly, businesses are adopting the SaaS model and allowing other businesses to ‘subscribe’ to their professional offerings. In this article, we break down the shift that the satellite communications industry has experienced with GSaaS, or Ground Station as a Service, and the disruptive leap forward ATLAS Space Operations has made in redefining GSaaS — now, Ground Software as a Service.

The Importance of a Great User Interface (UI)

A great user interface (UI) impacts many of your daily activities whether you realize it or not.
At ATLAS Space Operations, we spent time focusing on the machine-to-machine interface knowing that, some day, we would focus on a new user interface. However, we’ve always felt it’s not enough to simply have a UI. Rather, the UI must offer features that haven’t been seen before, but are essential to successful satellite operations. Task Insights and Free Time are key to that effort.

Putting the SaaS in GSaaS

If you are a spacecraft operator, it’s important to understand precisely what you are getting when you are selecting a ground station provider. Today, most antenna providers have adopted the term Ground Station as a Service as a way to describe themselves in the marketplace.
When we first started ATLAS Space Operations in 2015, the term Ground Station as a Service wasn’t very well defined and, frankly, didn’t exist. We had the vision to offer the first “service” model for ground stations and, to this day, are considered a pioneer of GSaaS.

Ground Segment Value Chain

Ground service providers offer a range of services from simple rack space to commodity hardware accessed by a VPN tunnel. However, it is worth evaluating the entirety of the chain with respect to the work your team will have to perform to integrate. If you are launching your first test spacecraft, and need 2 full time engineers to perform integration with ground providers, it can dramatically affect your costs. As a result, you have to ask yourself: what will I get in return from each ground service provider?