In the past two decades, a silent revolution has taken place in the space domain, leading to what today is known as “New Space.” We have passed from a selected group of countries, space agencies, and big industries building, launching, and operating satellites and other spacecrafts, of a scenario in which many universities and research institutes can do it. The key of this was the definition of the “CubeSat” standard, back to 1999. In 2013, it all took off on the commercial Earth Observation sector with the first launches from two companies that are now running 100+ CubeSat constellations for optical imaging or weather prediction, with very low revisit times. Today, the same revolution is taking place in the fields of Telecommunications, and Astronomical Scientific missions. In this chapter, the evolution of the space sector is briefly revised until the arrival of the CubeSats. Then, the CubeSat intrinsic limitations are discussed as they are key to understand the development and current situation of the CubeSat sector. NASA and ESA strategies are also presented. The chapter concludes with a summary of the technology roadmap to enable the next generation of CubeSat-based missions, including satellite constellations or federations, formation flying, synthetic apertures…
Part of the book: Satellites Missions and Technologies for Geosciences
From the first satellite launched in 1957, these systems always have drawn the attention of telecommunications operators. Thanks to their natural orbit, satellites can provide coverage to the entire globe or serve a vast region. Is this feature that makes them potential systems to extend current ground networks over the space. The first satellites were conceived as a single backhaul system to broadcast television or phone calls. Over the years, this concept evolved to a group of satellites that compose a constellation to interconnect any user around the globe. Nowadays, these constellations are still evolving to massive architectures with thousands of satellites that are interconnected between them composing satellite networks. Additionally, with the emergence of 5G, the community has started to discuss how to integrate satellites in this infrastructure. A review of the evolution of the satellites for broadband communications is presented in this chapter, discussing the novel and future proposed architectures. The presented work concludes with the potential of these satellite systems to compose a hybrid and heterogeneous architecture in which space, air, and ground networks become interconnected.
Part of the book: Computer-Mediated Communication