Earth Orbit: Getting Crowded... Much Faster

September 7, 2014 11:43 PM

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If you look at the number of satellites being launched to earth orbit over the past decade, there has been consistent growth. In 2004, a total of 76 satellites were launched (or attempted). In 2013, there were 215. That is almost a tripling of the market. But these numbers are deceptive. Here's why. In 2004, only 17% of the satellites that went up had a mass of 100 kilograms or less. In 2005, it was 11%. Last year, about half of the satellites weighed 100 kg or less.

In short, while the world is clearly building and launching many more satellites than it did 10 years ago, a much higher percentage of them now are microsatellites (10-100 kg), nanosatellites (5-10 kg), picosatellites (1-5 kg), and femtosatellites (under 1 kg).

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