It is believed that satellites take 10 to 15 years to produce and design. However, with the innovation of latest nano-versions, it can now be easily produced in just a few days or weeks. In today’s digital world, Glasgow is considered as the capital of Britain’s satellite building industry.
The latter shipbuilding hub has renovated itself for the space era. It can now craft more satellites compared to other cities outside the United States. Four years ago, Scotland’s first satellite which was made by Clyde Space was launched. As Spire Global and Alba Orbital joined the space race, 100 satellites were put in orbit.
With the continuous innovation of technology, Spire produces one satellite per week in its dust-free clean room. Traditional satellites were commonly built like a large bus, and it takes for about 10 to 15 years of designing and building. It has a working life in orbit of a decade or more. Fortunately, with the help of the nano-sats, the production of satellites can now be reduced in days and weeks.
This is effective to reduce time, budget as well as the effort in building such satellite. In addition to this, it now has a lifespan of two years before it drops out on their very low Earth orbit and burns up in the atmosphere.
“It allows the hardware to be regularly updated with newer models, according to Joel Spark, a co-chief technology officer of the company. “The whole point is to launch and replace. We change our phones every two years. Why would you want a spacecraft that old?” he added.
Nano-sats amount a few thousand pounds which is just a fraction of its larger cousins. Since it is tiny, its launch costs are also smaller which makes it feasible to have constellations of the devices that cover a greater area of the planet’s surface than previously possible. As of now, Spire comes with 78 nano-sats in orbit which monitor radio signals from ships and an aircraft later this year.
The signals will enable the company to monitor 75,000 individual vessels per day. It can help to possibly spot illegal fishing, monitor for piracy as well as trade various commodities before a cargo ship can reach the port. Spire’s chief executive Peter Platzer explained that the world trade is now $12.5 trillion per year having 90 % of goods transported by sea.