The large constellations of small satellites indicate groups of thousands of small satellites to be operated mainly in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Each constellation can have different orbital planes, with different inclination angles, ascending nodes, and different number of satellites per plane. Different sizes and weights can be used for the satellites in the constellation, the most common being the category of small satellites between 100 kg to 400 kg. Among the benefits of small satellites is that they are cheaper and easier to be replaced. However, the satellites will need to be replaced after approximately five years meaning that while the previous satellites are decommissioned, new satellites will be deployed. This can eventually contribute to a greater congestion and possibly add to the risk of collisions which is already increased in LEO.
Some of the opportunities and challenges brought by the large constellations of small satellites will be discussed this week by our contributors. We take this opportunity to invite you to contribute to this topic.