Are Current US Regs Smothering the SmallSat Market?


My post will be short, but it does tie in with yesterday’s post, so go read that and see if you agree.  But The Economist posted this article today, and it might be worth a read.

Reading the article, it’s obvious the writer is bullish about the future of small satellites.  The writer suggests, basing the suggestion on this more comprehensive post, that in the next five years, over 1,000 nanosats might be launched.  Such an explosion of satellites is possible due to cheaper 3-D printing technology (a technology “flavor of the day”–very cool, but it’s not the answer to everything), and cheaper, smaller, more capable electronics.  Such low costs mean more people can be involved in satellite building and launching, which somehow equates to the convenient round number of 1,000.  Could we maybe have 978 instead?  That could be equally feasible (and quite a coincidence if my number were correct).

The writer does bring up excessive US regulations, some ITAR-related, that might kill the small satellite boom in the cradle, and suggests it might be a good idea to review those regulations more often.  There is a valid concern about such a boom increasing the number of space junk orbiting the Earth.  It might be a good a idea for some kind of consensus and framework for dealing with that problem, too.


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