How do smaller satellites get into orbit?

They hitch a ride with the big guys!

In the last five years there have been around 900 satellites launched. Over the next ten years it’s expected that there will be over three THOUSAND launched!

Satellites come in all shapes and sizes – the International Space Station is the largest man-made satellite – although it’s one which has been in part built in space.

Some satellites are very small indeed – Cube Sats can be as small as a Rubix cube or even smaller. They’d fit in the palm of your hand.

Small and cheap satellites are becoming more common but getting them into space can cost an astronomical amount.

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To make things even more expensive, these launches often use rockets that launch vertically – which can cost millions of pounds because the rocket can only be used once.

Experts think that we should be able to get these smaller satellites into orbit in ways that don’t cost as much.

A number of smaller satellites could be grouped together and share a launch. If they could be launched close to where they are built, that would help smaller manufacturers cut costs.

It also means that different companies would have opportunities to work together. Perhaps laboratories and construction hangars to develop their technology could be based at the new spaceports!


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