Top SpaceTech Industry Trends in 2021
Global Tech Outlook has selected top trends that are popular in 2021 in the Space Tech industry.
The space tech industry is gradually growing with the advancement of technology and companies are coming up with innovative products to improve the operations of the space industry.
Small is smart
Danish startup Space Inventor has compiled sub-systems with thermal stability, shielding, and mechanical ruggedness into modules to build small satellites like CubeSats. It saves a lot of time for the engineers who are building the satellites. These small satellites have become a major trend in Space Tech in 2021. Miniaturized satellites allow for cheaper designs and advancements in industrial technologies enable their mass production. Startups develop small satellites that enable space companies to conduct missions that large satellites typically struggle with. Moreover, small satellites are well-suited for use in proprietary wireless communications networks, as well as for scientific observation, data gathering, and monitoring the earth using the GPS.
US-based startup Momentus has successfully made transportation to space affordable through their reusable rockets. After the final drop-off, the reusable vehicles de-orbit to another orbit. The reusable vehicle is equipped with robotic arms and is capable of performing proximity manoeuvres, docking, and refuelling, and is well-suited for an entire range of in-orbit services. With the advent of advanced robotics, 3D printing, and light-based manufacturing, concepts like large space structures, reusable launch vehicles, space shuttles, and satellite sensors have become a reality.
Space communications have become advanced through high-capacity antennae, ground stations, and low-earth orbit (LEO) satellites. Polish startup Thorium Space Technology has developed an ultra-flat, scalable active-matrix antenna. The antenna uses a band that is relatively free from interference from the Earth or space. As a result, it improves throughput and system capacity when compared to the existing systems. It also uses high radio frequencies and incorporates the functionalities of electronic control and beam modelling.
What happens in space, stays in space
Space is at present, filled with junks like rocket thrusters, derelict satellites, and most of all, tiny fragments of debris from collisions and explosions. Clearspace, a spin-off from the Swiss EPFL Space Center, develops technologies to remove unresponsive or derelict satellites from space. The startup’s small satellite solution finds, captures, and removes man-made space debris repeatedly. The startup plans to remove the first pieces of debris from space by 2025.
Given the costs and environmental impact that come with space missions, companies seek ways to ensure the sustainability of these missions. Hence, global startups & scaleups develop several solutions ranging from electric propulsion, green propulsion, and water-based propulsion to iodine-based propulsion systems to propel the next generation of clean rockets in space. Based in New Zealand and the Netherlands, Dawn Aerospace has built same-day reusable launch vehicles and high-performance, non-toxic propulsion systems for satellites of all sizes. The startup’s SmallSat Propulsion Thruster simplifies systems and replaces poisonous hydrazine with nitrous oxide and propane.
Activity in Space
Space activities include tourism, industrial missions, satellite servicing, food production, waste disposal, and space station improvement. US-based startup Orion Span has developed a next-generation space station platform, Aurora Station. Unlike custom-made one-of-a-kind modules that have been used on the International Space Station (ISS), the startup’s modular architecture is configurable in many different ways.
Mining in space
Mining of asteroids by private individuals and companies through advancements in space cameras and satellites aid in the precise location of asteroids. Once located, these celestial bodies can be used to extract minerals such as platinum, gold, iron, or even water. Analysts have predicted that space mining & extraction activities could potentially translate to a billion-dollar industry. British startup Asteroid Mining Corporation has developed a satellite to prospect near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) as mining candidates. The company develops a series of different spacecraft for prospecting, exploration, and extraction, with each craft performing a particular mission.