Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
Overview of Small Satellite Launch Services

Small satellite launch services have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the growing demand for space-based services. With the rise of small satellites, there has been a need for launch services that can accommodate these smaller payloads. This article provides an overview of small satellite launch services and a glossary of terms commonly used in the industry.

Small satellite launch services are typically classified into two categories: dedicated and rideshare. Dedicated launches are designed specifically for a single satellite or a group of satellites that require a specific orbit. Rideshare launches, on the other hand, allow multiple satellites to share a single launch vehicle, reducing the cost of launching a satellite.

The cost of launching a small satellite can vary greatly depending on the launch service provider and the type of launch. Dedicated launches can cost anywhere from $1 million to $10 million, while rideshare launches can cost as little as $100,000. However, rideshare launches may not be suitable for all types of satellites, as they may not be able to reach the desired orbit or may not have enough space on the launch vehicle.

One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a small satellite launch service is the launch vehicle. There are several types of launch vehicles available, including solid-fueled rockets, liquid-fueled rockets, and hybrid rockets. Solid-fueled rockets are typically less expensive and more reliable than liquid-fueled rockets, but they are also less flexible in terms of payload capacity and orbit options.

Another important factor to consider is the launch site. There are several launch sites around the world that offer small satellite launch services, including the United States, Russia, China, and India. Each launch site has its own advantages and disadvantages, such as proximity to the equator, launch capacity, and regulatory requirements.

Here are some common terms used in the small satellite launch services industry:

Payload: The satellite or satellites being launched.

Orbit: The path that the satellite follows around the Earth.

Launch vehicle: The rocket or other device used to launch the satellite into space.

Launch site: The location where the launch takes place.

Payload fairing: The protective casing that surrounds the payload during launch.

Launch window: The period of time during which the launch can take place.

GTO: Geostationary Transfer Orbit, a type of orbit used for communication satellites.

LEO: Low Earth Orbit, a type of orbit used for Earth observation and other applications.

Inclination: The angle between the orbit and the equator.

Apogee: The highest point in the satellite’s orbit.

Perigee: The lowest point in the satellite’s orbit.

Small satellite launch services have revolutionized the space industry by making it more accessible and affordable for smaller companies and organizations. With the growing demand for space-based services, the need for small satellite launch services is only expected to increase in the coming years. By understanding the terminology and factors involved in small satellite launch services, companies can make informed decisions when choosing a launch service provider and launch vehicle.