Session

Technical Session VI: Strength in Numbers

SSC13-VI-3.pdf (920 kB)
Presentation Slides

Abstract

The CubeSat revolution changed the way we think about small satellite missions. The original CubeSat vision was to enable simple, meaningful missions that universities could undertake within their limited budget and resource base. CubeSats were later adopted by industry and various government agencies with a focus on component miniaturization to squeeze more capability out of smaller configurations to lower mission costs. Ironically, this trend has triggered supplier and launch service price increases that are now a strain on universities and small research groups. The community focus on miniaturization has been costly in our endeavor to do more with less. Femtosatellites, defined as having a mass less than 100 grams, turn this scenario on its head by forcing a do less with more mentality; individual spacecraft will be less capable, but coordinated operation of massively distributed femtosatellites can achieve the required overall mission capability. We believe that femtosatellites are the next “little thing” in the small satellite community that can restore research affordability, encourage revolutionary advances, and provide transformational mission capabilities.

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Aug 13th, 4:30 PM

The Next Little Thing: Femtosatellites

The CubeSat revolution changed the way we think about small satellite missions. The original CubeSat vision was to enable simple, meaningful missions that universities could undertake within their limited budget and resource base. CubeSats were later adopted by industry and various government agencies with a focus on component miniaturization to squeeze more capability out of smaller configurations to lower mission costs. Ironically, this trend has triggered supplier and launch service price increases that are now a strain on universities and small research groups. The community focus on miniaturization has been costly in our endeavor to do more with less. Femtosatellites, defined as having a mass less than 100 grams, turn this scenario on its head by forcing a do less with more mentality; individual spacecraft will be less capable, but coordinated operation of massively distributed femtosatellites can achieve the required overall mission capability. We believe that femtosatellites are the next “little thing” in the small satellite community that can restore research affordability, encourage revolutionary advances, and provide transformational mission capabilities.