Our Innovation Analysts recently looked into emerging technologies and up-and-coming startups working on space technology. As there is a large number of startups working on a wide variety of solutions, we want to share our insights with you. This time, we are taking a look at 5 promising small satellite startups.
Heat Map: 5 Top Small Satellites Startups
Using our StartUs Insights Platform, covering 1.116.000+ startups & emerging companies, we looked at innovation in the field of space technology. For this research, we identified 102 relevant solutions and picked 5 to showcase below. These companies were chosen based on a data-driven startup scouting approach, taking into account factors such as location, founding year, and technology among others. Depending on your specific criteria, the top picks might look entirely different.
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights 5 startups & emerging companies developing innovative small satellite solutions. Moreover, the Heat Map reveals regions that observe a high startup activity and illustrates the geographic distribution of all 102 companies we analyzed for this specific topic.
EnduroSat – CubeSats
The dimension and cost of artificial satellites are determined by the complexity and nature of their payloads. The advancement in miniaturization of payloads, as well as reductions in assembly and launch costs, stimulates the growth of small satellites. Also known as smallsat, these satellites have a low mass, usually under 500 kilograms. CubeSats, a type of nanosatellite, are one of the most popular smallsat types currently in use, due to its affordability, modularity, and ease of development.
Bulgarian startup EnduroSat provides CubeSat building modules and platforms with a focus on swarm satellites and inter-satellite connectivity. The startup offers CubeSat frames, communication modules, solar panels, onboard processing antennas, and power module customizations. This solution enables companies from various industries that utilize satellites to develop enhanced alternatives to existing space technologies.
Kepler Communications – Satellite Constellation
Traditionally, geostationary communication satellites are heavy, often weighing more than 1.000 kilograms. Smallsat constellations deliver vast spatial and temporal coverage of the earth. Rapid product development cycles and low costs further attract startups to work on innovative communications technology.
Canadian startup Kepler Communications offers telecom services through its low-earth orbit (LEO) nanosatellite constellation. The startup uses a custom-built software-defined radio (SDR) to continuously enhance satellite features through software updates. Depending on the network requirements, this solution dynamically modifies the bandwidths, data rates, and center frequencies. The startup is also developing everywhereIOT to provide global connectivity for the internet of things (IoT) applications utilizing nanosatellite constellations.
Analytical Space – Satellite Relay Network
Constellations of remote sensing satellites generate a vast amount of data on an everyday basis. Currently, satellites compress and process the data and transmit it back to the ground, owing to data throughput limitations. Startups develop satellite relay network infrastructure to eliminate data throughput limitations and other data-related bottlenecks in space.
The US-based startup Analytical Space is developing FastPixel, a relay network for satellites using nanosatellites. The startup uses CubeSat hybrid radio frequency-laser data relays to increase data throughput for satellites. FastPixel is backward compatible and is also capable of receiving data from a wide range of radio frequencies, enabling customers to extend their downlink capacities. These relay networks find applications in weather forecasting, hyperspectral imaging, and asset tracking.
Orbex – Micro-Launch Vehicle
Smallsats are launched into the orbits either as part of a payload in heavy-lift launch vehicles or in exclusive small launch vehicles. In comparison with heavy-lift launches, micro-launches provide added flexibility in terms of launch schedules and frequencies. The increasing popularity of smallsats is pushing startups to develop sustainable small launch vehicles as well as cost-effective launch services.
British startup Orbex is developing a recoverable and re-usable micro-launch vehicle, with proprietary zero-shock stage separation technology, for low-cost orbital launches. The smallsat launch vehicle uses a 3D printed rocket engine, coaxial fuel tank, and carbon fiber or graphene composites for the main structures, and uses low-carbon bio-propane as fuel.
Aurora Propulsion Technologies – In-Space Propulsion System
In-space propulsion systems are used to make small orbital corrections, orbital maneuvering attitude control for prolonging the life of satellites, precision pointing, and also for collision evasion. Smallsats require precise in-space propulsion systems that are lightweight and energy-efficient. Emerging space technology companies are working to solve such in-space challenges facing the industry’s growth.
Finnish startup Aurora Propulsion Technologies offers Orbital Thruster, a water-based resistojet propulsion module for small satellites. The multi-thruster system provides three-axis attitude control and customizable tank sizes, apart from variable thruster power requirements, and magnetorquers. The water-based propellant makes both the satellite launch and transport to the launch site safer. The startup also offers modules for deorbiting CubeSats with the help of their Plasma Brake that uses the Coulomb force to generate drag.
What About The Other 97 Solutions?
While we believe data is key to creating insights it can be easy to be overwhelmed by it. Our ambition is to create a comprehensive overview and provide actionable innovation intelligence so you can achieve your goals faster. The 5 small satellite solutions showcased above are promising examples out of 102 we analyzed for this article. To identify the most relevant solutions based on your specific criteria, get in touch.