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.
The trade association that represents small satellite manufacturers is making a fresh push on Capitol Hill to ensure funds are included in the Pentagon’s budget for smallsat technologies.
Swarm Technologies’ self-stated mission is to bring internet access to the whole world, but it’s best known at this point for defying the U.S. Federal Communications Commission by launching four tiny SpaceBee satellites last year without a license.
Harris Corp. and L3 Technologies reported contrasting financial performances for their space activities Jan. 29, with Harris charting growth in classified smallsat programs and L3 recording losses in satellite communications components.