Novel technologies for lighter small satellites on the way, companies taking major steps

16 Jan
2020

 
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Collaboration and availing research grants are among major strategies adopted by market players to develop innovative technologies for utilizing small satellites.

Market players have been taking various steps to ensure they provide innovative small satellites for carrying out space missions. From launching space stations to collaborating with governments to develop satellites that are lighter in weight and offer better propulsions, they have been progressing toward new horizons. Rocket Lab unveiled its launch site in the U.S. for small satellites. This site is known as Launch Complex 2 or LC-2, and located at a seaside pad at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport. This is the first U.S. launch site, situated at the NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. Peter Beck, the CEO of Rocket Lab, outlined that having a launch site in the U.S. to serve government customers while catering to national security needs is a huge step for the company.

The company plans to launch 12 missions a year from this newly launched site. The first launch is set to take place in spring 2020. It will be carried out to launch the Space Test Program 27RM (STP-27RM) mission of the U.S. Air Force. This program would launch the microsatellite known as Monolith into the orbit to determine if small satellites are able to carry large aperture payloads in space weather. Col. Robert Bongiovi, the Director of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center's Launch Enterprise, highlighted that the new site provides reliable and responsive access to space. According to the report published by research firm Allied Market Research, the global small satellite market is expected to reach $15.68 billion by 2026.

Riding on the wave of developing innovative technologies, Orbion, a Michigan-based in-space propulsion startup, collaborated with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) for development of small satellite propulsion technology. Based on the research contract received by Orbion, this collaboration aims to improve resiliency of the U.S. systems in the space. The propulsion technology will be utilized for DOD satellites to offer extra propulsion while satellites are revolving in orbits. Moreover, it will offer cost-effectiveness. According to the statement by Orbion CEO Brad King, the volume is the major strategy to protect the U.S. systems in space against the attacks. He added that the way to improve resilience of space systems is to build huge number of small satellites at low costs. The mass-production techniques should be deployed for commercial purposes. With this contract, the company has been looking for ways to modify the manufacturing processes to cater to DOD requirements.

Determining the huge opportunities at the global stage, market entry strategy has been adopted to explore the opportunities and innovate. Taiwan Innovative Space Inc. (TiSPACE) has been launched for development of commercial applications of hybrid rockets, according to statement given by Chen Yen-sen to The Taipei Times. The company has been founded by Chen, a NASA veteran. It raised efficiency of hybrid rocket engines for gaining NASA-defined Class-I rocket propulsion. The Founder highlighted that the company was able to manage this by keeping the costs lower as compared to other firms. He added that these hybrid rocket engines are able to create more than 1,000 kilograms of thrust.

The company plans to offer small satellite launch services to clients across the world and negotiating with various countries for leasing the launch site. It has further plan to get an office at California to explore opportunities in the U.S. commercial space and satellite ecosystem. According to the statement given by Chen to the Taipei Times, the company has plans to develop a satellite technology industrial park along with carrying out nearly 100 launches by 2023. Based on the projections of the small satellite market, its satellite technology will offer consumer-centric electronic products for carrying out more launches.  

 
Alex Hillsberg

Alex Hillsberg

Chief editor of review team at FinancesOnline

Chief editor of review team at FinancesOnline Alex Hillsberg is an expert in the area of B2B and SaaS related products. He has worked for several B2B startups in the past and gathered a lot of first hand knowledge about the industry during that time.

 
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