International Small Satellite Developments Point to Opportunities for Intelligence Gathering

January, 2019
IDA document: D-10439
FFRDC: Science and Technology Policy Institute
Type: Research Summary/Research Insights , Documents
Bhavya Lal, Benjamin A. Corbin, Asha Balakrishnan See more authors
Small satellite (smallsats), or satellites under about 200 kilograms, are quickly becoming the spacecraft of choice in the space sector, particularly for those countries and organizations previously excluded from access to space. Because smallsats have shorter development cycles and lower development and launch costs than more traditional larger satellites, they are considered more expendable, enabling riskier experiments and different applications than larger, more costly satellites. A team of researchers from the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) studied ongoing and potential future international and private activities in the smallsat sector. Our goal was to identify global trends in the sector as a way of helping the intelligence community determine targets for its future data collection efforts surrounding the space sector.