Science & Technology

Nano satellites, the beginning of a new space era

By Carmen Rodríguez

Madrid, Jun 2 (EFE) – The 1957 launch of the Soviet satellite Sputnik marked the beginning of the space age.

Six decades later, with the growth of nano satellites, the door to a new space era is about to open; the democratization of space.

Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite, weighed some 80 kilograms and as satellites grew in size, only space agencies, large multinationals or a handful of powerful countries had access to space.

But with technological advances, satellites today can weigh less than 1 kilogram. These are known as pico satellites, even though nano satellites, weighing from 1 to 10 kilograms, are most common.

With smaller and lighter satellites comes the democratization of space, which allows access to new players beyond space agencies and multinationals.

Nano satellites were designed with the creation of the CubeSat standard, a university initiative in 1999 to teach students how to make satellites.

These are nano satellites of a standard dimension, 10x10x10 centimetres and 1.33 kilos, which can be assembled to form more complex satellites.

What started as an educational project is now a thriving reality where launching to space has become a cheap practice, according to head of the space programme department at Spain’s National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA), Eva Vega.

Space is no longer “an impossible dream but a reality where business can be done,” according to CEO of Spanish nano satellite company Alen Space, Guillermo Lamelas.

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