The Future of Satellite Technology: What You Need to Know

Satellite technology is the driving force behind most of the advancements in the space sector.

FREMONT, CA: Most breakthroughs in the space sector are made possible by technological advances in satellites. Small satellites or smallsats, notably NanoSats, which drive the next generation of satellite capabilities, are the most significant satellite trends. In addition, the low cost of manufacturing smallsats paves the way for the mass manufacture of satellites. Satellite Internet of Things (IoT) is an additional significant trend that enables unparalleled connectivity across sectors and 5G and forthcoming 6G capabilities. Satellite makers and operators are simultaneously introducing technology advancements to ground stations and orbital services. Digitized payloads, propulsion systems, and technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) allow satellites to execute more complicated autonomous duties. Startups working on satellite manufacturing, operations, and services are building the groundwork for a new era of intelligent satellites, thanks to rising government and private investments.

Small Satellites

Small satellites with more intelligent and compact subsystems eliminate the requirement for huge satellites and supporting infrastructure. Commercial satellite operators deploy smallsat constellations in LEO to give global coverage with low latency. Small satellites are progressively positioned in LEO constellations for earth observation (EO) and remote sensing to produce improved insights for comparable motives. Satellite entrepreneurs accelerate this trend through mass manufacture, rocket ride-sharing with other missions, modular commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware, and standardized satellite buses. Satellite operators and owners can also save costs by vertically integrating satellite production.

Satellite IoT

The increasing need for satellite-enabled Internet of Things results from the satellites' greater coverage than the terrestrial infrastructure. Government and business sector investments in satellite technology for connected solutions are advancing satellite IoT technology. Commercial solutions deploy IoT sensors and devices for satellite-based, precise, real-time global asset tracking, monitoring, and remote surveillance. Advanced satellite devices and sensor technologies enable a new set of cloud and edge computing capabilities. Some of the most significant developments in satellite IoT have resulted from its military and defense applications. In extreme areas, terrestrial communication networks, for example, have limited coverage and frequently rely on the land and marine connections. Startups offer hybrid services utilizing satellite IoT as backhaul for current terrestrial networks, enhancing the infrastructure.

In-Orbit Services

Two key obstacles to satellite performance in space are being addressed by satellite technology companies: servicing orbiting satellites and cleaning space. Satellite operators utilize space situational awareness (SSA) to detect and remove space debris due to the exponential increase in space missions. Startups' self-destruction and other deorbiting technologies for decommissioning satellites are sustainable for the future of space. Increasing the lifespan of existing satellites is a second satellite technology that helps clear space. To service or modify satellites in orbit, startups and scaleups deploy mission extension vehicles, often known as space tugs. In addition to orbital transfer vehicles and payload and cargo delivery vehicles, additional in-orbit services consist of orbital transfer vehicles. By performing in-orbit satellite servicing and repairs, autonomous robotic technology improves the efficiency of satellite maintenance.

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