For nearly two decades, the AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites has pondered the question – do small satellites augment existing large satellite mission infrastructure, or are they disruptive in that they can replace conventional space missions? The answer lies in an effective measure of the utility of small satellites. The 18th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites will explore this question. Disruptive technologies often make an existing means of performing a task obsolete, e.g., e-mail vs. the classic hand-written letter. In numerous cases the result has been the emergence of new industries. Do small satellites offer a similar shift in utility—enough to displace conventional large satellites? For years, the potential of small satellites has been touted, yet the small satellite launch rate remains stagnant. Potential military users continue to ask how small satellites are useful to the warfighter. Scientists weigh the potential research impact of one large multi-payload spacecraft versus a distributed field of sciencecraft. In the end it comes down to a set of performance metrics that entail a measure of achieved capability, incurred cost, and projected reliability. What seems certain is that our community must work to prove and improve the value and efficacy of small satellites as a disruptive technology, or we are not likely to see a paradigm shift to small satellite missions anytime soon.

Browse the contents of 2004 - Small Satellites: Complementary or Disruptive Technology?:

Keynote Address
Technical Session I: The Future - Military Missions
Technical Session II: Measuring Small Satellite Utility
Technical Session III: Panel Discussion
Technical Session IV: Advanced Technologies - Section I
Technical Session V: Advanced Technologies - Section II
Technical Session VI: The Future - Science Missions
Technical Session VII: 12th Annual Frank J. Redd Student Scholarship Competition
Technical Session VIII: University Programs
Technical Session IX: The Year in Retrospect
Technical Session X: Launch Update
Technical Session XI: Propulsion
All 2004 Content