Broadcast 1246 (Special Edition)

26 Oct 2009 Dr. Henry Helvajian, Dr. Siegfried Janson
Your Amazon Purchases Helps Support TSS/OGLF (see

Feedback: What did you think of this show?: 

Guests: Dr. Henry Helvajian, Dr. Siegfried Janson. Topics: Small satellites, satellite history, present and future satellite technology, launch rate. We welcomed Dr. Henry Helvajian and Dr. Siegfried Janson, editors of "Small Satellites: Past, Present, and Future," to the program. This book is available from the One Giant Leap Foundation (OGLF) website at Remember, buying books through the OGLF Amazon partners page helps in supporting The Space Show. In our first segment began with a summary of the history of small satellites starting with the commencement of the space era. As you will hear, small satellites have been with us from the start and now due to advanced technology, their utility is excellent and improving all the time. Advanced satellite technology was introduced to the discussion and we even talked about mass producing satellites and why it's more economic to launch to LEO. We started our second segment with a focus on cubesats. I asked about the expanding role of academic cubesat programs and their contributions to the small satellite industry. As you will hear, academic programs are a major driver for the industry and an important and inspiring element adding to more STEM students. You will not want to miss this important discussion. Pocket cubesats, 3 Cube Spacecraft, and 1U CubeSats were addressed in this segment. Our guests suggested those interested should visit for more information. Cubesat technology evolution , Earth monitoring with the already existing 10 meter ground resolution, and the subject of space debris came up since debris is an ongoing and serious problem. Listen to some of the debris mitigation techniques talked about and being implemented. One method mentioned was for the satellite to deploy and inflate a balloon to create drag which brings the cubesat down in three to five weeks. Tethers Unlimited also has a method for deorbiting a cubesat, their nanoTerminator. The issue of personal satellites came up during this segment, addressing their potential future in light of both power and bandwidth limitation issues. Our guests said that the cubesats were evolutionary space technology, taking about two months to build and being able to launch on a nine month schedule as compared to a regular satellite working off a six year schedule. Cubesats can be built, deployed, and start operations six to eight times faster than other satellites. As we started our third and final segment, we talked about revolutionary issues such as mass production and the materials that satellites will be made of in the future. For example, glass instead of metal. Our guests then went through the structure of their book which examines the fifty year history of small satellites. Space policy and security came up in this segment as there is a section in the book addressing these important areas. An important part of the book looks forward to the next fifty years and here we learned that smallsats might be used as propellant, thus breaking the tyranny of the Rocket Equation. Check out Chapter 23 for more on this exciting subject! During this segment, much more was said about the radiation issue for satellites. Toward the end of the program, questions were asked about STEM education and the need for highly trained engineers to take us into the future that was being discussed on this show. Both our guests thought that STEM was declining but the bright spot was the degree to which cubesat programs were bringing students into STEM educational programs. This is an important discussion that you must hear. If you have a question or comment for either of our guests, please send it to me at and I will forward it to them.



WARNING: Using Disqus Comments on the Space Show:

To ensure your comments do NOT get caught in the Disqus automatic spam filter systemplease login to your Disqus account or create a verified/approved Disqus account.

Posting multiple URL links WILL TRIGGER the Disqus automatic spam filter system.