The Large Benefits of Small-Satellite Missions



Small-spacecraft missions play a key and compelling role in space-based scientific and engineering programs [Moretto and Robinson, 2008]. Compared with larger satellites, which can be in excess of 2000 kilograms, small satellites range from 750 kilograms—roughly the size of a golf cart—to less than 1 kilogram, about the size of a softball. They have been responsible for greatly reducing the time needed to obtain science and technology results. The shorter development times for smaller missions can reduce overall costs and can thus provide welcome budgetary options for highly constrained space programs. In many cases, we contend that 80% (or more) of program goals can be achieved for 20% of the cost by using small-spacecraft solutions.