Small satellites and satellite buses are a new focus for exploring deep space. Launching small satellites for secondary payloads is easy, but they have weaknesses when taking them to deep space missions because their transfer capabilities are low, whereas their antenna is large. The satellite buses are based on Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) and a Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA).
According to satellite bus details construction schemes, these systems must be equipped with a large parabolic antenna and an orbit control subsystem. Let us discuss mission requirements, launch feasibilities, and design parameters. Satellite bus types could be many, so let’s take a closer look at how this tech works.
What Is Satellite Bus and What Is It Used For?
A satellite bus is a primary system and structural body acting as an equipment-hosting platform. While spacecraft payloads can differ, most spacecraft buses have a similar design. There are many subsystems when building a bus, and manufacturers have to consider spacecraft hardware and payload. The satellite bus cost will also vary depending on the type of satellite and its functions.
The satellite bus power is determined by structural components and a satellite’s body, where scientific instruments and payloads are being held. Building satellite buses also implies building spacecraft of a unified standard that results in lower production costs. Depending on their goals, satellite buses can carry transponders or specialized sensors based on the mission they are sent to do. For example, communication satellites placed in LEO will be different from EOS satellites carrying optics that take pictures.
Still, whatever the spacecraft goals, producing a spacecraft bus must be focused on three important aspects like heat dispersal, payload carrying capacity, and power allocation to payload.
Suppose you want to know how a satellite bus can be built and how does satellite bus work. In that case, you should understand that the electrical power subsystem is providing power to carry not only the payload but also the entire bus. Any power is obtained by using solar panels, which convert solar radiation straight into electrical current. Solar panels on a bus should be large.
Also, they should fold at launch and when they are deployed in orbit. In a subsystem, there should be batteries that store energy for when a spacecraft is in the planet’s shadow. Data handling and command are included in a major subsystem, where a spacecraft’s brain happens to be. Electronic controlling how data gets transported between components sending the data through wiring.
How Is Satellite Communication Possible?
Satellite communication is possible because bus subsystems have transmitters and receivers that communicate with ground stations on Earth. Radio signals are sent from Earth, while the spacecraft operates through different software commands. Subsystem control of the altitude is also important, as it consists of specialized sensors that analyze the Sun, the Earth, and the stars, to determine where the spacecraft is and the direction in which it should point.
Let’s Talk About the Prospects of the Satellite Bus Market
Commercial and governmental bus markets are still developing, but space launches keep increasing despite a short break with the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s satellites vary in size and can be either small, medium, or heavy. In 2020, the small satellite segment was holding the highest share and was expected to show remarkable growth in the upcoming years. According to the subsystem basis, there are market segments for mechanisms and structures, electric power systems, thermal control, altitude control, flight software, telemetry tracking and control (TT and C), and propulsion systems.
As far as application goes, satellite buses are categorized into Earth observation and Earth meteorology, scientific research & scientific exploration, communication, surveillance & security, as well as mapping for navigation. Geographically, the global market classifies the regions of Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and other countries. This market is also influenced by private funds looking to invest in the space business. As more companies start developing their space products, including buses and related equipment, we see the costs of production decrease dramatically, which can only mean that space should become more accessible and affordable than before.