Tackling risk in LEO: Introducing LeoLabs’ space insurance tool

In this decade, an estimated 20,000 to 100,000 satellites will launch into Earth’s orbit. While this number alone is striking, when compared to the estimated 3,800 satellites launched during the previous decade, it becomes extraordinary.

Most of this growth is occurring in low Earth orbit (LEO) — significantly raising the risk of collisions between satellites. Collision risk is further exacerbated by the considerable amount of space debris in LEO, such as inactive payloads and remains from anti-satellite weapons tests.

Illustration of the Earth with space objects and debris surrounding it.

This rapidly changing environment makes it even more vital that space operators insure their valuable space assets. The very nature of the space environment, however, poses a challenge for insurance companies. Compared to other Earth-bound industries, there is a significant lack of data available on hazards in space, and what does exist is historical. Making matters worse, legacy assessment tools are not able to support situation-specific risk assessments and do not factor in the serious risks from space debris smaller than 10 cm. This gap in knowledge and technical capabilities results in significant uncertainties in the underwriting analysis for space coverage.

That’s where we come in.

Introducing LeoLabs’ space insurance tool

We’re excited to announce the beta launch of LeoLabs’ space insurance tool. This easy-to-use, dynamic tool enables space insurance underwriters to assess the orbital debris collision hazard in LEO quickly and comprehensively by leveraging the troves of data created by our global radar network.

Designed with guidance from the insurance industry, this tool is powered by Tableau, the leading software application for customizable data analytics and visualizations. Tailored dashboards are generated in Tableau by accessing LeoLabs historical database of more than 10 billion orbital data products. Customers can utilize these dashboards to visualize unique patterns and uncover vital statistical risk metrics for intelligent decision making.

“It’s the first of many solutions under development that harness the insights gained from combining industry-proven mathematical algorithms and industry-leading space situational awareness data,” explains LeoLabs’ Senior Technical Fellow Dr. Darren McKnight.

Laptop featuring the space insurance tool interface.

How does it work?

Insurance underwriters can use the space insurance tool to define a satellite or constellation of satellites and assess its probability of collision with cataloged objects (i.e., collision avoidance burden). They can also consider lethal non-trackable debris with data derived from the Meteoroid and Space Debris Terrestrial Environment Reference (MASTER) program. To predict the future growth of the cataloged objects included in our tool, users can select from the eight most likely collision events in LEO. These events are determined by a review of the 1,000,000+ conjunction events monitored by LeoLabs since 2018.

What are the benefits?

This tool replaces the hours-long, manual efforts required to integrate conclusions from various sources to assess collision risk. With our space insurance tool, all the necessary data and risk algorithms are embedded in one interactive dashboard, giving underwriters access to near real-time analysis. “It’s intuitive interface, robust collision hazard equations, and access to near real-time environment hazard data makes it indispensable to characterize debris collision risks for LEO systems,” says Chris Kunstadter, head of global solutions for space insurance firm AXA XL.

With the space insurance tool, you can:

  • Rapidly determine the collision risk for a space asset or constellation in LEO
  • Calculate the risk probabilities based on a comprehensive set of factors
  • Gain detailed insights through new types of data visualization
  • Predict future collision risk evolution over the course of an asset’s lifetime
  • Account for all objects currently tracked, as well as lethal non-trackable objects smaller than 10 cm
  • Generate summary reports that provide both big-picture conclusions and detailed supporting data
  • Reassess the collision risks on a frequent basis, supported by biweekly database updates
  • Investigate using forensic analysis after a collision event

What’s next?

The tool is currently on display at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Paris from September 16–23, 2022. Feel free to stop by our booth (C33) in the exhibition hall for a demonstration and to speak with someone from our sales team. As with any of our products and services, we’re eager to work with current and potential customers to ensure this tool fits the industry’s needs.

If you’re interested in testing out the tool but aren’t present at the IAC this week, please reach out to our team at sales@leolabs.space.

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