NASA has established an office to coordinate rideshare launch opportunities for its growing number of smallsat science missions, taking advantage of excess capacity on launches of larger spacecraft.
Scolese said the NRO "will be able to do more with smaller satellites.”
In an interview, Swarm chief executive Sara Spangelo said a trifecta of setbacks prevented the company from getting its constellation in orbit in the timeframe envisioned.
A study that found that every small satellite launched commercially in the last five years suffered delays is evidence of the need of greater standardization in payload accommodations so that smallsats can easily switch vehicles, one company argues.
For the last few years, investors, analysts and other observers of the entrepreneurial space industry have been forecasting end times for the industry’s current boom. So far, they've been proven wrong.
Beyond the reduced administrative fees, the FCC’s new satellite rule fixes major problems for smaller satellite constellations staying in the United States.
SpaceX plans to launch regular Falcon 9 rideshare missions starting in March and won’t delay launches for tardy customers, a company executive said Oct. 8.
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.
The smallsat market, still rife with uncertainty, is at the beginning of an explosive growth cycle as large scale, expensive constellations face their initial launch.
Two of the largest commercial launch providers separately announced plans Aug. 5 to provide dedicated launches of small satellites to sun synchronous and geostationary orbits.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, speaking at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce event here, said the regulations will make licensing small satellites cheaper and faster in order to better match cost and pace at which smallsat operators often function.
As NASA selects its next major planetary science mission, the agency is also funding studies of very small missions that seek to capitalize on advances in smallsat technology.
Loft Orbital, a company preparing a constellation to carry payloads for customers who don’t want to operate their own satellites, has filled up its first satellite and booked a January 2020 launch through Spaceflight Industries.