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First SmallSats...Now ChipSats

  • 1.  First SmallSats...Now ChipSats

    Posted 07-19-2019 07:18
    About five years ago, I was tracking venture capital investment in Earth observation (EO) satellite companies that were launching "smallsats" or lightweight satellites, approximately 100 kg to 5 kg in weight. This compared to historically huge payloads of 5000 kg like those launched by DigitalGlobe. One of those companies, Skybox, was acquired by Google, but the investment didn't pan out and it was later sold to Planet Labs, that also acquired Blackbridge's RapidEye. So, while there has been some shakeout in the EO market, it hasn't stopped innovation and Planet continues to launch "swarms" of smallsats.

    Now, comes, "chipsats," chip-sized devices that can be launched for as specific purpose for a limited time. But the advantage according to the article is that they are very cheap to make.  While the devices reported in the article are not for the purpose of EO, the potential exist. Still the most expensive part of small EO devices is the launch, not the manufacturing process and it will be interesting to watch what happens in the future.

    Joe Francica
    Boulder CO