Nano and Micro satellites as the Pillar of the “New Space” Paradigm
Six decades after the launch of the first satellite in 1957, space business and space technologies are taking a new turn: From big to small, from primarily government to extensively private sector and from a few players to profusely many. The new paradigm, or “New Space”, as it has been called, can be characterized by new startups with venture capital backing entering the field or in fact leading the field in new innovative applications, universities and countries with no previous space experience joining the bandwagon, lean design and development techniques benefitting from the newly available COTS parts and subsystems, mass production of satellites, constellations of hundreds or thousands of small satellites serving old and new emerging niche needs, small launchers available for reaching orbit at low cost and rather short notice, capability to launch a rocket several times a month, and more exotic applications such as the coming space tourism and asteroid mining. Although there were initiatives in this direction in the previous century, they proved too feeble to set a trend. “New Space” started showing its first signs of emergence after the turn of the millennium, but the market acceptance has really taken root in the last 3 or 4 years. Market data clearly shows an accelerated pace shaping the future of space industry. This paper reviews the developments in the nano and micro satellites considering them as the pillar of the New Space paradigm. The road leading to the present state and the current trends are elaborated. A look to the future points to the proliferation of space applications among the many startups, big and small institutions, but being limited by market forces and survival by a few as the decade proceeds.
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