Insight - Small Satellites and Space Situational Awareness
By Brian Weeden, SWF Technical Advisor
The space world is currently experiencing rapid growth in new entrants and innovation. The growth and innovation are likely to lead to many new beneficial satellite applications, but there is some evidence they could have negative implications as well. An estimated 3,800 new satellites are projected to be launched between 2016 and 2020, which, if realized, would almost quadruple the population of active satellites from the 1,400 currently in orbit. Many of the projected new satellites are small satellites that will be launched into large constellations of hundreds or thousands, and some are even smaller cubesats that measure only 10 centimeters (4 inches) in size.
The growth in small satellites creates concerns for space situational awareness (SSA), which is our ability to characterize the space environment and carry out space activities in a safe and efficient manner...continue reading.