【Small Satellite Conference】Changes Observed for the First time Conference in two years
The Small Satellite Conference (SSC), the world’s largest small satellite-related conference, was held at Utah State University from August 6–11, 2022. WARPSPACE’s CSO, Mr. Mori, participated in the conference and gave a presentation at a side meeting on challenges related to Earth observation satellites and trends in the optical communication industry, which attracted a great deal of attention. In this article, you will find the summary of the SSC and the content of Mori’s presentation and the reaction from the audience.
The SSC is a conference related to small satellites that have been held since 1987 and is one of the world’s largest conferences for university researchers and private sectors to exhibit and interact. This year, over 3,300 participants attended from 40 countries and 240 participating organizations.
This is the first time in two years that the event has been held in person due to the pandemic, and the number of participants appears to have returned to pre-pandemic numbers.
This SSC also used to be marked by sessions and presentations by military personnel, but this year, major small satellite constellation companies and others stood out. This may indicate the transition from the phase in which the military and government agencies-oriented space development to the private sector is nearly completed, as the private sector is capable of providing better, faster, and lower-cost products.
In addition, outside of the private and university sectors, the exhibition is also marked by NASA and other organizations that are more concerned with scientific objectives than with commercial applications. For example, Mori said that the exhibition booths of space probes that meet the definition of a small satellite, “under 500 kg,” such as CAPSTONE, successfully launched in June this year and spearheaded the Artemis program, were very impressive.
Also of particular interest is the exhibit of TBIRD (Terabyte Infrared Delivery), a demonstration satellite for “optical communications to theoretically enable inter-satellite communications at 1 TB,” which is necessary for NASA’s Artemis program to conduct deep space manned exploration in the future. NASA is also keenly interested in this field, as NASA has announced that it will exhibit a technology demonstration satellite related to optical communications at the SSC, and it is expected that the optical communications industry will see further growth in the future.
In a 40-minute lecture at the side meeting, Mori introduced his company’s services, as well as the telecommunication challenges in the industry and the value of optical communications as a solution.
How can optical communications offer solutions to international problems such as the depletion of available radio bandwidth and difficulty adjusting frequencies required by each country, probe, and device? He also provided an overview of the topic, including service providers offering optical communication services, suppliers developing optical communication terminals, and players on the ground segment, mapping the currently booming optical communication industry, current industry trends, technological challenges and value, and business.
The audience, many of whom came from backgrounds other than the optical communications industry, was highly interested and receptive, and the room was so packed that there were not enough chairs and some people had to stand to watch.
After the lecture, a Q&A session was held for about an hour, during which participants asked technical questions related to the future use of optical communications, as well as the operators who are participating in optical communications in Japan. The discussion was not limited to our services, but also related to the optical communications industry as a whole. The conference was very successful, as the presentations at the lectures and booths led to local meetings, invitations to receptions, and other business discussions and exchanges that will lead to the future development of our business.