Small Satellites

NASA emphasises that the adaptation of small satellite technology has lowered the boundary to entering space, permitting companies and other non-for-profit organisations, as well as previously non-space-faring nations, to make strides toward having a presence in low-Earth orbit. According to Dale & Whitcomb, however, there is still no universally accepted definition of what constitutes a 'small satellite', however, it is generally accepted by many organisations to be of 500 kg mass or less with the following dimensions: 
     - up to 1 kg: pico satellite 
     - up to 10 kg: nano satellite 
     - up to 100 kg: micro satellite 
     - up to 500 kg: mini satellite 

​​​​​​​Some authors use mass or cost and short development times, while others use relative complexity. Arguably the best criterion for defining a small mission is, however, mass, as one pays based on mass for the launch. 
A common small satellite is a CubeSat which ranges from pico to large nano satellites. 

“Fixing the satellite body dimensions promotes a highly modular, highly integrated system where satellite subsystems are available as ’commercial off the shelf’ products from a number of different suppliers and can be stacked together according to the needs of the mission. Furthermore, the standard dimensions also allow CubeSats to hitch a ride to orbit within a container, which simplifies the accommodation on the launcher and minimises flight safety issues, increasing the number of launch opportunities as well as keeping the launch cost low”. 

Research on the topic can encompass development of subsystems, payloads and spacecrafts for technology demonstrations and utilization as well as space applications and exploration for operations on the ground, in the atmosphere, in Earth orbit and beyond. 

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