Small satellites are progressively launching out for their missions and completing them successfully. This move comes even as their quantity continues to rise.
The Aerospace Corporation report displayed at the 34th Annual, Small Satellite Conference, reveals that almost all smallsat launches in the last decade have successfully finished their slated missions. The first half of this decade witnessed a 76 percent success rate of the smallsat satellites with weight below 500 kilograms.
The report concludes that the smallsat industry is progressively growing both technologically and launch wise. The final half of the studied decade indicates a success rate of 85%. This data is exclusively for those satellites that have completed their mission. Nonetheless, several other satellites are yet to finish their missions with others succumbing to malfunctions and launch failures.
Generally, large smallsats have a high efficiency than small ones. The report states a 96 percent success rate for large smallsats. The other percentage fails or partially succeeds due to insensitivity to the low-risk posture for the larger ones, costly to manufacture.
Smallsats that fail in their mission fail in the launch stages, a concept in engineering termed infant mortality. The lead researcher in this study, Kara O’Donnell, submits that a small satellite that succeeds in its first two months is likely to succeed in its future launches and since it has overcome the infant mortality syndrome.
Some of the primary causes of launch failures include communication and power system crashes. These two challenges are identifiable with those smallsats that have outlined a final review of their systems. The cause failure of the rest remains uncertain because either the firm withholds such details or have failed to understand the cause.
The increasing number of smallsats has come with a positive reliability report. The first half-decade studied shows 244 smallsats succeeded with the other half witnessing 1208 successful smallsats. This success points to technological advancement and the intense competition in this industry.
One of the primary stimulators of expansion in the smallsat industry is Planet. The Planet runs a spectrum of Earth observatory satellites and, therefore, partners with various smallsat companies to experience diverse technology. The Planet accounts for over 300 satellites whose success rate is part of this story.
In conclusion, small satellites are progressively becoming reliable, which is likely to continue over the coming decade. Since most space stakeholders are opting for constellations, the smallsat industry will witness enormous growth in technology and the number of satellites produced.