From the Magazine
Commercial orders of geostationary communications satellites have reached double-digits for the first time since 2016, but a return to former buying rates remains unlikely, experts say.
The emergence of commercial suppliers of SSA data, short for space situational awareness, has led to a rethinking of how the Defense Department should invest its SSA dollars.
The prospect of thousands — potentially more than 10,000, depending on what systems actually get launched — of satellites in low Earth orbit raises concerns about collisions and the creation of orbital debris that could render such orbits all but useless for any satellite.
Foust Forward | Worldwide, there are 131 small launch vehicles in the works. Most of these will fizzle out.
There’s almost universal agreement in the industry that there are far many more small launchers under development than can be supported by even the most optimistic forecasts of smallsat development.
When the Aerospace Corp. launched the Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration in 2017, one mission objective was to test water-fueled thrusters. At the time, the idea was fairly novel. Two years later, water-based propulsion is moving rapidly into the mainstream.
The FAA’s former commercial space transportation describes what he thinks a 21st century licensing system should look like — at the very top level — and offers some ideas on the best way to implement such a regime.
SpaceX and Blue Origin both have already taken legal action against the Air Force, arguing that it has failed to create a level playing field for them and other companies to be able to challenge heavily favored ULA.
When small launch vehicle developer Vector announced it was suspending operations Aug. 9, many in the industry wondered if this was the beginning of a long-anticipated shakeout of an overcrowded market.
As SpaceX turned its attention to the larger Falcon 9 and programs like commercial cargo and crew, its presence at the annual Conference on Small Satellites, and the overall smallsat industry, faded. At this year’s conference, SpaceX retained its low profile but also announced its return to the smallsat market.
Large-scale rideshare missions are not without their challenges, both for the launch provider and satellite operators.
Five decades after Apollo, NASA — burdened with an old-school management culture — originally offered a linear, programmatic solution to its most recent White House mandate to return Americans sustainably to the moon. That was a mistake, but it need not be a fatal one.
The ground systems business has changed dramatically in recent years thanks to a massive increase in data volume, advanced technology and fresh competition. More change is coming as constellations in low Earth orbit multiply and individual satellites collect and transmit more data than ever before.
As the world becomes more connected, many don’t see a need for satellite, yet we must remind ourselves that the global communications network cannot survive without satellite communication. How can satellite services survive? Could artificial intelligence (AI) be the answer?
The Apollo program and 1969 moon landing inspired many of the entrepreneurs working to send people and robotic vehicles back to the moon or to pave the way for further space exploration and commerce.
When the U.S. Air Force selected 14 companies in July 2014 to help the government launch military payloads on commercial satellites, observers expected a wave of contracts to follow.
Fair or not, rockets and satellites generally overshadow the ground systems they need to do their missions. But as the U.S. military looks for faster and cheaper ways to get data from satellites, ground systems are attracting growing attention.