Nope, you aren’t seeing things. There’s some German in the title there. The phrase essentially means small but mighty (like my wife). And the phrase describes, in a nutshell, the explosive growth and growing capabilities of these miniature mighty man-made moons. Nature.com has a fairly good write-up about the history and current state of Cubesats.
It’s exciting to think about the future of space operations if small satellites continue to get less expensive. If SpaceX and other launch companies hop into the fray to make launch costs less expensive, so much the better. Small satellites encourage companies and individuals to consider hopping into a very pricey field normally reserved for governments, who are able to tap the tax vein of subjects apparently at whim.
And the risk-takers who decide to get into the small satellite business will also likely be the ones who are willing to take more risks. This risk-acceptance will allow for more learning as mistakes are made, more robustness of satellites as people understand what works and what doesn’t, and more diversity in missions, as right now we have the equivalent of digital lighthouses, observation towers, and radio towers in orbit around Earth. We should be able to do more out in space than that, right?
And while the naysayers out there may want to change the mantra to “Small but murky,” the potential of these satellites, coupled with the imagination of people, some of who never imagined working on space projects ever, is mighty indeed.
As is my wife.