Emerging technologies are being used by the space industry to improve and scale operations in space, including 5G, advanced satellite systems, 3D printing, big data, and quantum computing. Numerous services rely on space infrastructure, including weather forecasting, remote sensing, GPS navigation, satellite television, and long-distance communication. New SpaceTech trends are also gaining ground in the space business, including smart propulsion, space robotics, and space traffic management. Startups provide technologies that simplify movement, operations, and communications between earth and space while also promoting private investment in the sector.
Top 10 Best SpaceTech Trends & Innovations
1. Small Satellites
Small satellites have been more prevalent in recent years, making them the most prominent SpaceTech trend in 2023. Satellites that are smaller can be designed more affordably, and improvements in industrial technology allow for mass manufacture of these satellites. Small satellites are created by startups so that space enterprises can carry out tasks that huge satellites normally find difficult. Moreover, small satellites are ideal for usage in private wireless communication networks as well as for scientific observation, data collection, and GPS earth monitoring.
The Danish start-up Space Inventor wants to abandon the practice of stacking circuit boards inside satellite frames in favor of using modules once again. The startup builds small satellites like CubeSats by assembling sub-systems with thermal stability, insulation, and mechanical ruggedness into modules. This helps engineers who construct and assemble satellites save time.
Business, exploration enterprises, and science teams can purchase NanoSats and other space services from the Bulgarian startup EnduroSat. The NanoSats from the startup can handle up to 10 payloads of data with ease. The embedded operating modes structure used by the satellites greatly improves efficiency. The compact satellites allow for safe telemetry and telecommand communications using fast X- and K-band frequencies.
2. Advanced Space Manufacturing
Innovative technologies are incorporated into space manufacturing to enhance space goods and services. The space industry is advancing with the introduction of advanced robots, 3D printing, and light-based manufacturing. Due to improvements in manufacturing techniques, large space constructions, reusable launch vehicles, space shuttles, and satellite sensors are now a reality. Long-term space exploration and mission depend on automation, which is why companies offer solutions specifically designed for the sector.
A US-based firm called Momentus offers reusable rockets that lower the cost of getting to space. The reusable vehicles de-orbit to another orbit following the last drop-off. The reusable spacecraft has robotic arms and can dock, perform proximity maneuvers, and refuel. It is suitable for a wide range of in-orbit services.
Equatorial Space Systems, a Singaporean start-up, creates a commercial sub-orbital rocket that can lift tiny payloads above the Karman line, which separates space from the atmosphere. Dorado, the startup’s cost-effective mission solution, is available in two versions: a single-stage vehicle that can reach an apogee of 105 km and a two-stage version that can surpass a goal altitude of 250 km. The two rockets offer weightlessness for 3 and 6 minutes, respectively.
3. Advanced Communications
Space communications are based on two components, a transmitter and a receiver, at their most basic. Electromagnetic waves are encoded with a message by a transmitter. Then, as they approach the receiver, these waves move through space. Recent advances in space communication, nevertheless, go beyond transmitters and receivers to provide enhanced space communication via large-area antennae, ground stations, and LEO satellites.
The active-matrix antenna developed by Thorium Space Technologies is ultra-flat and scalable. The antenna operates in a band where interference from the earth or space is minimal. In comparison to the current systems, it increases throughput and system capacity. The antenna also use high radio frequencies and has electronic control and beam modeling features.
Arctic Space Technologies, a Swedish start-up, adds processing power next to the software-driven ground station. The startup decentralizes processing power near to the station rather of transmitting satellite data directly to the cloud and encountering data bottlenecks. By eliminating latency and enabling actual real-time processing, this lowers network bandwidth and storage needs.
4. Space Traffic Management
The majority of LEO satellites that were built by humans are now space garbage. This comprises satellites that have been abandoned, rocket engines, and most importantly, minute pieces of debris from collisions and explosions. The future of space exploration and travel is in danger due to all of this trash. Startups create workable methods for debris retrieval and space traffic control to address this issue.
The Swiss company EPFL Space Center spin-off ClearSpace creates technology to remove inoperative or abandoned satellites from orbit. The startup’s small satellite solution repeatedly locates, seizes, and eliminates artificial space trash. By 2025, the business hopes to remove the first space junk.
OrbitGuardians is a commercial provider of active debris removal services with a US-based startup. The business actively removes hazardous space trash smaller than 20 centimeters in order to safeguard astronauts, visitors, and functioning satellites. The firm offers low-cost garbage removal by gathering all the accessible debris parameters like location, size, and the amount of debris fragments using computer vision, artificial intelligence (AI), and the Internet of Things (IoT).
5. Smart Propulsion
The in-space propulsion system is a crucial component of satellite constellations. Companies look for strategies to guarantee the sustainability of these trips given the costs and environmental effect associated with space flights. So, to enable the next generation of clean rockets in space, international startups and scaleups research a variety of options, ranging from electric, green, and water-based propulsion to iodine-based propulsion systems.
Using iodine as a propellant, the French firm ThrustMe provides an electric space propulsion system. The startup’s answer is a low-cost alternative to propulsion for larger satellites. The technology developed by ThrustMe is used in both older satellites and items created to address new problems brought on by the expansion of satellite constellations.
Dawn Aerospace is a New Zealand- and Netherlands-based manufacturer of high-performance, non-toxic propulsion systems and same-day reusable launch vehicles for satellites of various sizes. Nitrous oxide and propene are used in the startup’s SmallSat Propulsion Thruster in place of lethal hydrazine. By using the same propellants as electric-based propulsion systems, it performs much better for CubeSats.
6. Space Activity Management
An emerging area in SpaceTech is activity management, which is concerned with controlling activity and mobility in space. Tourism, commercial space missions, satellite maintenance, food production, waste removal, and space station upgrades are some examples of space activity. By making it possible to research how living things act in space, for instance, such developments give the scientific community more room to operate.
A US-based firm called Leviathan Space Industries is building a network of space stations. In order to enhance space travel, trade, and tourism, the network of 14 space stations creates artificial gravity. Also, the business takes advantage of a spaceport on the equator to maximize payload and launch vehicle fuel savings. Hence, its architecture supports a resilient ecosystem for risk-free and participatory space exploration.
A tool is being developed by Canadian startup Obruta Space Solutions to allow for in-orbit maintenance of new satellites. Puck, a startup’s solution, provides satellites with refueling services and improvements to prolong their operating lifespan. The system also enables humans to live sustainably in orbital environs while extending satellites’ lives and assisting in their eventual removal.
7. Space Missions
The fundamental questions concerning our cosmos and the development of our solar system are answered by space research. Humans discover chances to advance mining, material science, and life science research by tackling the problems associated with space exploration. Space missions also extend the scientific and technological breakthroughs while motivating the future generation of students, instructors, and researchers globally.
A technology platform is being developed by US-based startup Lunar Station Corporation to turn lunar sensory datasets into 3D representations of the lunar environment. Solutions from the startup offer quick and mission-specific intelligence to enhance mission planning. Customers can get cutting-edge lunar environmental intelligence through the company’s products MoonHacker and Moon Navigational Services.
In-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology is offered by Israeli firm Helios to accomplish the goal of establishing permanent bases on the moon and mars. The company’s Molten Regolith Electrolysis Reactor separates the plentiful oxides present on the surfaces of Mars and the Moon. The startup’s reactor then transforms into oxygen and a variety of metals, including titanium, iron, and aluminum. The business also develops storage technologies to allow for the best possible use of produced oxygen.
8. Space Mining
Reality is catching up to science fiction (Sci-Fi) in terms of mining celestial bodies. The accurate locating of asteroids is made possible by asteroid mining by private individuals and businesses using developments in space cameras and satellites. These heavenly planets can be exploited to extract minerals like platinum, gold, iron, or even water if they are found. Analysts believe that space mining has a strong economic incentive and has the potential to grow into a $1 billion business.
Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) are being investigated as potential mining targets by the UK-based firm Asteroid Mining Corporation. The firm offers a variety of various spacecraft for prospecting, exploration, and extraction, each craft carrying out a specific task. Explorers are directed to specific mining possibilities by its proprietary dataset, which was produced from its Asteroid Prospecting Satellite One (APS1) mission.
High Earth Orbit Robots, an Australian start-up, uses intelligent control and satellite-based cameras to gather detailed images of satellites, space junk, and resource-rich asteroids. The location and observation of asteroids for mining can then be done using this imagery. The start-up manufactures miniature satellites that study astronomical objects from high-earth orbit (HEO).
9. Low-Earth Orbit Satellites
Low-Earth Orbits are typically less than 1000 km above Earth’s surface, although they can be as low as 160 km. They are quite close to the planet’s surface. Moreover, LEO satellites don’t always orbit the Earth on the same path. As a result, there are more paths available for satellites in LEO. It becomes a viable target as a result for space corporations. Startups create appropriate methods and solutions to address LEO-related issues, such as data management and communication systems.
For LEO satellites, the French startup SpaceAble offers an on-demand in-situ asset inspection service. It gathers information on the solar system using a decentralized method and offers the space community vital information and operational security. The startup is now working to establish a secure environment free from redundant systems and other flaws.
From 2023, the medium-Earth orbit (MEO) optical data relay network operated by the Japanese start-up WARPSPACE will provide LEO optical telecommunication services to satellite operators. This network will establish optical links for communication with the LEO satellites. The company just requires users to equip a tiny optical transceiver. Moreover, LEO missions will be able to establish a one Gbps connection by employing their services.
10. Space Data
LEO satellites and multi-satellite constellations are more frequently used for imaging, communication, and surveillance purposes. These satellites generate enormous amounts of data, which must be processed, handled, analyzed, and managed. Entrepreneurs use big data, blockchain, and SpaceTech data to provide safe data solutions for the space sector.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) are a delivery method used by Luxembourg-based startup Kleos to distribute its data products in accordance with customer needs. Unprocessed data from the startup’s satellites is presented by The Guardian RF, which is ideal for businesses with in-house geo-location analysis or signal intelligence skills. Geo-located RF activity data is provided via the Guardian LOCATE data. The user-defined data collection known as Guardian UDT, which also enables the selection of particular areas of interest such ground station and security level, is the last one.
LeoLabs, a US-based firm, offers data services for accurate satellite tracking and monitoring through the use of phased-array radars and orbital products. Using ephemerides, the startup also offers information for the speedy location and identification of new payloads at LEO. By tracking satellites and space debris in real-time, its data services offer space intelligence and awareness. Learn more
Only a small part of the trends we discovered throughout our extensive investigation are included in the SpaceTech Trends & Startups section of the article. The industry as we know it now will change as a result of, among other things, communication, advanced manufacturing, robotics, big data, material science, and 3D printing. Gaining a competitive advantage requires early adoption of new prospects and developing technologies into your firm. Get in touch with us to quickly and thoroughly research businesses and relevant technologies that interest you. Learn more
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the uses of space technology?
Space technology can be used to explore other planets, study the universe, and support human operations by offering communication and navigational services. It includes everything from satellites and other instruments to the scientific fields of astronautics, physics, chemistry, and biology, as well as the human elements of space flight.
What are the benefits of space technology?
Overcoming the difficulties of working in space has sparked a number of technological and scientific breakthroughs that have benefited society on Earth in a variety of ways, including in the fields of health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, energy and the environment, information technology, and industrial productivity.
Sage is a financial/consumer journalist and senior editor, personal finance, of TrendsHQ. EXPERTISE: Personal Finance, Careers, Jobs, Scholarships, and Entertainment.