From the U.K.’s first vertical rocket launch to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy launch plans, the space tech industry has been excelling the course of space exploration and pushing the boundaries of what we thought was possible.
The aerospace industry's horizons have widened with several outlining opportunities and investment options in space and satellite research. Moreover, the use of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), space missions, orbital debris removal, etc. relies heavily on the development of observatories on Earth.
This article will provide information on the major space missions that are scheduled for 2023, and also discuss how start-ups are contributing to the increasing momentum of the broader space technology industry.
How are start-up companies leading the space tech industry?
In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of space technology startups. These companies are developing a wide range of technologies, from small satellites to propulsion systems to space-based data services. Some of these startups are focusing on providing new services to existing customers in the space industry, such as launching small satellites or providing data services, while others are working on the development of entirely new technologies that could open up new markets in space.
The growth of the space economy has led to increasing in the number of space-related venture capital firms and increased interest from traditional venture capital firms. This has led to a significant increase in funding for space startups.
Some notable space startups include:
• SpaceX has evolved over time and has made significant contributions to the space industry. Currently, the company is planning to develop reusable rockets and spacecraft for various purposes such as satellite launches, cargo and crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS), and ultimately, human missions to Mars.
• Planet Labs operates a fleet of small satellites that provide high-resolution imaging of the Earth.
• Virgin Galactic is developing a suborbital space tourism system.
• Blue Origin has grown into a well-established company with a significant presence in the space industry. The company is currently developing reusable rockets and spacecraft for various purposes, including satellite launches, space tourism, and other potential applications.
• Relativity Space is developing 3D-printed rockets.
The space technology startup industry is progressing rapidly and there is a lot of innovation and investment happening in this field.
Space Tech Programs for 2023
Here’s an overview of the upcoming space tech programs that are scheduled for 2023, highlighting the significant advancements and innovations in the field of space exploration.
NASA's Artemis program: The Artemis program is NASA's human spaceflight program, which aims to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024, using the Artemis III mission, and establish a sustainable presence on the lunar surface. Artemis is a program that is the follow-up of the Apollo program which took place in the 60s and 70s and will use the new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the Orion spacecraft to transport astronauts to the Moon.
The Artemis program has several objectives, including:
• Building a sustainable presence on the lunar surface.
• Demonstrating new technologies and capabilities that will be needed for future missions to Mars.
• Engaging international and commercial partners to expand human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
• Inspiring the next generation of explorers and scientists.
The Artemis program will also establish a lunar gateway, which is a small space station that will orbit the Moon and serve as a staging point for lunar surface missions.
CubeStats Program: CubeSats are a type of small satellite that is typically about the size of a shoebox and are relatively inexpensive to build and launch. They have become increasingly popular in recent years for a variety of applications, including scientific research, Earth observation, and technology demonstrations.
There are several future plans for CubeSats in space, including:
• Scientific research: CubeSats are being used for a variety of scientific research missions, including studying the Earth's atmosphere, monitoring space weather, and studying other planets.
• Earth observation: CubeSats are being used to take high-resolution images of the Earth, which can be used for a variety of applications, including monitoring natural disasters, monitoring crop growth, and tracking shipping vessels.
• Technology demonstrations: CubeSats are being used to test new technologies, such as advanced propulsion systems and new communications technologies.
• Constellation: CubeSats are being used to form constellations of small satellites that can provide services such as remote sensing and internet of things (IoT) connectivity.
As technology and manufacturing techniques continue to improve, it is expected that CubeSats will become even more capable and cost-effective in the coming years.
Space-based Solar Power Program: Space-based solar power (SBSP) is a concept that involves collecting solar energy in space and then transmitting it to the Earth's surface using wireless power transmission (WPT) technology. The idea is that by collecting solar energy in space, where there is no atmospheric absorption or weather interference, it would be possible to generate electricity 24 hours a day and transmit it to the Earth's surface, where it could be used to power homes and businesses.
There are a few different approaches to SBSP that are currently being researched and developed, including:
• Solar power satellites: This approach involves building large satellites in orbit around the Earth that would collect solar energy and then transmit it to the Earth's surface using WPT technology.
• Solar power drones: This approach involves using drones to collect solar energy in the stratosphere, which would be less expensive than launching satellites into orbit.
• Solar power balloons: Similar to drones, it involves using high-altitude balloons to collect solar energy in the stratosphere, which would be less expensive than launching satellites into orbit.
SBSP is a promising concept that has the potential to provide a virtually limitless source of clean energy, but significant technological and economic challenges must be overcome before they can be fully realized.
There are many exciting developments happening in the field of space technology. However, there are also many challenges that must be overcome, such as high costs, technical difficulties, and regulatory hurdles.
Nevertheless, the ongoing advancements in space technology have the potential to greatly benefit humanity, from providing new sources of energy to improving communication and transportation to enabling new scientific discoveries and expanding our understanding of the universe.
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