Space technology has always been fodder for the best science fiction because of its vastness and the wonder it imbues in the human mind. These satellite companies create tech to operate in space every day, and they are making great strides in this wondrous, enigmatic realm. Through their efforts, space becomes a little more accessible to us all, especially when combined with virtual reality.
Check out the top ten space technology satellite companies to keep an eye on this year!
Cannae is the company that developed the Cannae Drive, a Lorentz Force-based thruster that will not require satellites to store metal onboard as fuel. Cannae is planning to launch their CubeSat with the Cannae Drive in a cooperative effort with some private partners. The Cannae CubeSat in question is a 6U unit, roughly the size of a shoebox.
The Cannae test flight is expected to last six months, noticeably longer than traditional satellites of that size. If the mission is successful , it will show a level of feasibility in this technology that may pave the way for further advances in space travel and satellite technology.
Ursa Space Systems provides customers with up-to-date information about events on Earth’s surface. Customers can request customized points of interest that Ursa will monitor such as resource pile differences or ship locations.
Ursa Space Systems also monitors events as they occur on a global basis, providing customers with new, freshly analyzed data that was sent as soon as it was processed. Events that Ursa monitors include construction, oil usage, and repair activities.
Firefly Space Systems is developing a low-cost method of sending small satellites into space. Firefly Space Systems is currently using rocket propulsion and seeking an effective way to switch over to air-breathing propulsion. Their later models are also likely to make use of reusable features.
Firefly is determined to assist in proving the feasibility of immature small, low Earth orbit technologies.
Phase Four is employing a highly efficient mass-to-weight ratio radio frequency thruster (RFT). The Phase Four RFT will enable Phase Four to combine multiple engines into a CubeSat platform for higher levels of acceleration and more effective maintenance of orbit or satellite repositioning.
Phase Four has the exclusive license for this technology, coming from the University of Michigan. While the engine was initially designed for use with smaller satellites, it can be scaled for use with larger spacecraft.
Leaf Space is building ground-based satellite radio arrays for enhanced communication with satellites regardless of where they are in space. This is a significant advantage for companies making use of microsatellites because their information can be retrieved more readily as the ground-based arrays grow in number.
Leaf Space offers both high consumption and pay-as-you-go plans for prospective customers, letting users benefit from their service without paying for mountains of data they may or may not use.
Alba Orbital is making PocketQube satellite components to the market in an affordable manner. Alba Orbital is working with the European Space Agency to coordinate the launch of their Unicorn-one and two QubeSats. Alba also offers an effective method of deploying large numbers of satellites.
Swiss Space Systems is helping to shape the progression of commercial and academic space research. S3 aspires to be the global leader in orbital delivery of small satellites. S3 has developed a majoritively reusable launch vehicle. The non-reusable segment is the upper body, which allows S3 to save significantly on launch costs.
S3 is hoping to launch small satellites up to 250kg into Earth orbit. S3 has a test flight planned for 2017.
SpaceLS is expanding quickly in order to fulfill the high demand for low space Earth orbit micro robots. SpaceLS is planning to launch their Promethius-1 vehicle with a reusable first stage in 2017. SpaceLS launched the Black Arrow in 1971, putting the 66kg Prospero satellite into orbit.
Since then, SpaceLS has continued to create more cost-effective means of putting satellites into orbit.
NanoRacks works with companies and regulatory agencies to help utilize low Earth orbit, among their list of partnerships are Blue Origin, the International Space Station, and various Earth-based space regulators like NASA and the European Space Agency.
To date, NanoRacks has launched more than 300 payloads into low Earth orbit. Among the launched vehicles are Urthecast vision satellites.
SpaceVR uses 4K definition, 360-degree capture cameras mounted to a satellite to offer customers a truly immersive experience. SpaceVR is planning to launch cameras all throughout the solar system, and currently offers a membership for users’ viewing pleasure. SpaceVR is compatible with most VR hardware that is commercially available.
Memberships can be bought for one-year or a lifetime, though the lifetime memberships are limited to 1,000 total.