The Small Satellites Systems & Services Symposium held in 2004 demonstrated the maturity reached in small satellite technologies. Many European companies and institutions are involved in this field, and now offer a catalogue of products. Small Satellites started as a challenging experimental test bench for universities and evolved as a vector for testing innovative technologies, and to give access to space to advanced engineering concepts. Now, Small Satellites are a consolidated tool for research; they complement traditional space activities, both for commercial exploitation and scientific research.
Small Satellites Raise Questions for the Space Community
Small Satellites as technology demonstrators and precursors of large user missions.
* How Small Satellites can reduce the risks of cutting edge missions, * How Small Satellites can support the fine-tuning of future mission requirements, * Can Small Satellites perform some of the R&D activities for human exploration?
Small Satellites as “gap fillers” for services provided by conventional satellites. Can this become another segment of utilisation of Small Satellites?
The cost-driven approach in the design of Small Satellites pushed reuse of components available on the market. Some are now taken as a reference to design new systems. Does this mean that de facto standards exist for components and interfaces?
Is the beginning of series production at unit level? Can this generate a viable business for suppliers or can they only survive if sustained by research institutions?
One point still open for Small Satellites is the launch cost. Are the new launchers really giving new opportunities?