Space exploration has become more accessible than ever before, with the cost of launch decreasing and the availability of satellite components improving. However, there are still practical hurdles to overcome in the process.
The first major hurdle is the launch itself. Satellites are built to withstand the extreme conditions of being strapped to a rocket and launched into space. However, they must still be certified as resilient before being allowed to enter the launch container. The risk of losing a satellite during launch is low, but there is always a chance of a rocket failure. Standardization of cubesat deployment containers has reduced the risk of disconnection during launch.
Once a satellite is deployed, the initial orbits are crucial. These early orbits are necessary to establish communication with the satellite and assess its health. Failure to deploy the antenna or a power system failure can lead to a loss of communication. Finding the specific satellite among others that were deployed simultaneously poses another challenge.
Each satellite behaves differently and establishing a sustained and strong communication link between Earth and space is essential. Australia has an edge in narrowband technology, supporting data links for emergency services and IoT ground stations.
After the satellite is deployed and the initial orbits are established, various systems and sensors must be activated. This process involves deploying solar panels, stabilizing the satellite’s rotation, and activating internal components. Each step carries its own risks, and unexpected issues are common. Problem-solving through telemetry data is necessary to address any glitches.
Testing is the best way to ensure success in space. Considering factors such as a cube sat’s tumble, temperature balancing, and power flow is crucial for mission success. Modern satellites are coded to protect themselves and shut down in case of failures caused by human error.
Overall, the key to success in the satellite industry lies in thorough testing and preparation. While there will always be risks involved, proper testing and problem-solving can mitigate these challenges to maximize mission success.