Satellite Internet and Future Space-based Economies

The growing market for satellite internet calls for more efficient collision avoidance practices

On January 11th, 2024, Chinese startup OrienSpace successfully launched a solid fuel rocket with a payload of 4.2 metric tons. The rocket, officially named Gravity 1, carried three Yunyao-1 meteorological satellites into orbit. The launch served as a proof of concept meant to attract investors in the emerging market for satellite internet.
OrienSpace is one of many firms involved in the Chinese Economy’s push to build a network of remote-sensing satellites rivaling service providers like Starlink and ViaSat. There are currently over 400 commercial space companies in China, each developing rockets and satellites they inevitably hope to launch.

Implications for Future Satellite Goals

As of 2023, there are 26,700 satellites in orbit. That number is expected to increase exponentially as companies like OrienSpace pursue deals with satellite network providers. Without a way to analyze the trajectories of multiple satellites at the same time, potential collisions with debris and inactive satellites in orbit are inevitable.

Importance of Collision Avoidance Strategies

Avoiding collisions requires speed and precision—moving a satellite out of its orbit compromises mission timelines and depletes fuel. As the number of satellites in orbit rises, this principle is reinforced; there are even greater opportunities to waste time and money unnecessarily moving a satellite. For this reason, programs which evaluate risks for collision are essential to help control centers operate satellites smoothly and efficiently.

Modern Collision Avoidance Solutions

One viable method of collision avoidance involves creating a time series using digital approximations of satellite profiles generated from local and remote observation sites. The precision of modern commercial sensors allows for cross-sections of different satellites to be restricted until a collision or pass can be predicted within a reasonable margin of error.

Advantages of Time Series Collision Assessments:

  1. Cost: Using collision avoidance systems conserves fuel by preventing unnecessary maneuvers.
  2. Accuracy: Current commercial sensors are highly effective and capable of producing results within a negligible margin of error.
  3. Integration: Mentioned collision avoidance solutions can be integrated into almost any satellite control center by connecting with existing, available equipment.
  4. Efficiency: Collision avoidance systems enable control centers to identify and schedule necessary maneuvers well in advance, freeing up manpower and resources.

To recap, the growing market for satellite internet calls for more efficient collision avoidance practices as new vessels are launched into orbit. Current collision avoidance solutions use ASCOM protocols to connect with observatory equipment, compiling position data into a visual time-series which assesses risks for potential collisions. Implementation of these technologies would help save time, money, and resources.



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