Is there a market for micro sats?

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holmec

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Here and there I read articles mentioning micro sats. <br /><br />But I'm curious about the micro sat market. Is it a real market? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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holmec

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That's fine, but who is interested in operating small, micro, nano satellites? <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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docm

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Remember that the miniature satellite category runs ~500kg and down, so they can still be substantially powerful units using modern components. <br /><br />Uses/users; small budget researchers (universities etc.), small nations, those who want to use cheaper launchers, flying constellations, gathering data from multiple points and in-orbit inspection of larger satellites for starters.<br /><br />There is also a fairly large project to develop CubeSat's; 10x10x10 cm and ~1 kg, allowing them to be launched as secondary payloads even on econo-launchers. <br /><br />Advantage: cost - estimated <$80,000 each for CubeSat.<br /><br />Disadvantages: little fuel, lower power, short lifetime...but for many experiments those are irrelevant.<br /><br />7 CubeSat's went up as secondaries on a Dnepr last April, but they've been going up since 2003. One attempt in 2006 to launch 14 on a Dnepr failed due to the booster shutting down. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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The only real market is for telecom satellites. They require power and transponders, and are now quite big with more than one hundred transponders for the largest ones. The trend towards even bigger is receeding these days but just slightly.<br /><br />Observation satellites are very limited comercially and require a minimal payload (in the form of a decent-sized telescope) to be attractive.<br /><br />Science satellites are not a real market, since they are agencies-driven.<br /><br />Who wants to buy a science microsat? If you know someone who can buy it, please tell me. I would love to build such a stuff. But the pro-space billionaires are more focused on human flight.<br /><br />Best regards.<br /><br />
 
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docm

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The April 7;<br /><br />CAPE1 for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette: basic research, design, development , and maintenance of a low earth orbiting satellite.<br /><br />Libertad 1 for Sergio Arboleda University, Columbia: telemetry experiments<br /><br />CP3 for California Polytechnic: Attitude Determination and Control using 2-Axis Magnetometers and Magnetorquers<br /><br />CP4 for California Polytechnic: Energy Dissipation Experiment, CP Bus test<br /><br />Multi-Application Survivable Tether (MAST) for Tethers Unlimited: 3 stacked CubeSats doing a tether experiment.<br /><br />AeroCube 2 by The Aerospace Corporation: USAF provider, largely intelligence related<br /><br />CubeSat TestBed 1 by Boeing <br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Boeing Successfully Completes CubeSat Mission to Advance Nano-Satellite Technology<br /><br />ST. LOUIS, Aug. 16, 2007 -- The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] has completed the first phase of its nano-satellite research and experimentation with the successful conclusion of the CubeSat TestBed 1 (CSTB1) mission. The spacecraft, launched April 17 from the Baikonur Cosmosdrome in Kazakhstan, accomplished 100 percent of its primary mission objectives.<br /><br />Through experiments such as CSTB1, Boeing is evaluating a variety of technologies, design elements, and attitude determination and control approaches for future operational nano-satellites -- spacecraft weighing less than 22 pounds (10 kg). Pico-satellites like CSTB1 weigh less than 3 pounds (1 kg).<br /><br /><b>With the tiny spacecraft still fully operational, the program is entering an optional test phase to support additional experiments such as taking more photographs using CubeSat's ultra-low power imager and evaluating non-traditional attitude control algorithms.<br /><br />"The extremely low cost and risk of CTSB1 allowed us to experiment with a range of more radical design elements that wouldn't occur with a more traditional program," said Scott MacGillivray,</b></p></blockquote> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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docm

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I don't see it as that big a problem; their orbits will decay pretty quickly and they're still large enough to track. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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holmec

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That's pretty sweet. R&D with microsats. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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propforce

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<font color="yellow">The only real market is for telecom satellites. They require power and transponders, and are now quite big with more than one hundred transponders for the largest ones. The trend towards even bigger is receeding these days but just slightly. <br /><br />Observation satellites are very limited comercially and require a minimal payload (in the form of a decent-sized telescope) to be attractive. <br /><br />Science satellites are not a real market, since they are agencies-driven. <br /><br />Who wants to buy a science microsat? If you know someone who can buy it, please tell me. I would love to build such a stuff. But the pro-space billionaires are more focused on human flight.</font><br /><br />I make the analogy between the micro-sat vs. big comm-sat is somewhat similar to the beginning of personal computer vs. big main frame.<br /><br />If anyone who's old enough to remember the late 70s/ early 80s during the "birth" of small personal PCs would remember the "freedom" we experienced having our own "personal" computer. True, small PC can not do the computing power of big main frames and no one was certain where this product would go, but it served a purpose for individuals and met the needs. <br /><br />But until the "cheap" production of parts from Taiwan and later China, PC was not widely accepted by coporate busiinesses, they continued to use electric typewriters and Wang word processors. The PC remained in the hands of "techies", e.g., those mainly in the science & engineering communities.<br /><br />So attempts to define the "market" for micro-sat at this stage is a wild guess at best. We don't know where the application or the potential users would be. But imagine the freedom and the possibilities if you and I each can own his/her own "personal" micro-sat? Imagine that I'll have my own "telecom" broadcast over my personal micro-sat? If I want to a particular part of earth, I can direct my own personal "earth observation" micro-sat a <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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docm

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Exactly, and the same goes for NewSpace in general. It's a paradigm shift in the making; new ideas and new ways of executing them. <br /><br />It reminds me of the attitude of TV film editors when videotape and later computer editing hardware like the NewTek Video Toaster came along. The paradigm had shifted totally out from under their feet, but they were mostly in total denial. <br /><br />Those that adapted made a smooth transition, after a bit of attitude adjustment. <br /><br />Those who didn't found themselves classified as dinosaurs, replaced by 16-25 year olds who got an Amiga computer with a Toaster for Christmas. This is how creative team members on programs like Babylon 5 and seaQuest DSV got started, and now they're running the f/x industry.<br /><br />And this all happened in 5-10 years, depending on the market segment. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Docm,<br /><br />Again, I would really love to see such a market emerge. But for now, despite at least one decade of announcement, it seems very limited. The point again is who is the customer? Some universities? But if they belong to countries with Space Agencies, they have to pass through them. There is the quote of Univ of Mexico. OK. But as soon as a country becomes big enough economically speaking, there is an agency (e.g. in India). For the cubesats (a fantastic concept btw) ,there seems to be ties with the agencies, more or less directly.<br /><br />I hope this customer basis will broaden. But if it is still related to agencies, I doubt this will generate an affordable product.<br /><br />Sorry to look over-requiring but for microsats to become a real economical reality, you need far more orders than for other categories of satellites and even more series effect. Because they are far cheaper individually (that's the goal!). You draw the parallel with PCs. Rightly so. But PCs developped only when the customer's base widened by several orders of magnitude.<br /><br />There is Globalstar2 with 48 satellites. But that is minisat, not microsat. And one single customer.<br /><br />Best regards.<br />
 
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docm

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Two words: Moore's Law<br /><br />The minisat of today is the orbital pocket watch of tomorrow, if not smaller. <br /><br />I can remember buying my first computer, an Altair 8800 in 1975. With only lights for a display its utility was pretty questionable too, but within a few years...well...you know what happened. Commodore came out with the PET, Radio Shack with the TRS-80 and all of a sudden people found uses for them. <br /><br />One thing I've learned in my many years is that "Doubting Thomas's" are usually wrong. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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jimfromnsf

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moore's is not applicabe to spacecraft. Sensors and antennas are better when larger
 
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docm

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Terahertz band comms (30 to 3,000 microns). Several groups are developing arrays with 10+ units on a microchip wafer and satellite comms is one of their target markets. Work is supported by the USAFOSR, ONR and ARO. As for sensors, Boeing is already testing theirs in microsats including cameras. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Again I would love to see that market emerge.<br /> I am just trying to find arguments to invest in such items. On this (old) side of the Atlantic, we have not the backbone strong enough to have development paid by MIL. We would mainly depend on ESA, but as I mentioned above, ESA is not spending much on the subject. Smaller agencies do something (CNES e.g.) but we still lack the real industrial vision with strong recurrence and low cost. What I fear mainly is that agency-funded effort will not result into low-cost microsat, de facto killing the market. I hope my US colleagues do better.<br /><br />Best regards.
 
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holmec

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On the other hand Ariane is makeing a launcher that will have the ability to launch small satellites....Vega <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><font color="#0000ff"><em>"SCE to AUX" - John Aaron, curiosity pays off</em></font></p> </div>
 
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docm

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For no market there seems to be a lot of activity. It could be foresight; we're on the cusp of another Moore's Law leap in processing and components so for X functionality the required volume will be less. In some cases this will impel the urge to stay big and add capacity, but others will opt for reduced cost/size. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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h2ouniverse

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Small satellites indeed. But not microsats "PC-like". (I mean cubesat-class).
 
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