Now, engineers from the European Space Agency (ESA) have designed a transforming satellite that doesn’t have to return to this planet to have alterations made. It can literally transform itself to make necessary changes from all the way up in outer space! This is revolutionary because of the huge problem with launching things like satellites into space: Getting them back down to Earth to do literally any work on them is nearly impossible. Once they are out in space, if any changes need to be made to the satellite–or its function needs to be repurposed–the satellite essentially becomes useless, and a new satellite must be sent in its place.
The dawn of a more flexible transforming satellite system
Customizable satellites up until this point have served a single–or only a few–purposes up in space, eventually requiring a new satellite to be launched when there is a desire to change the tasks to something new. Much of the time, the old satellite is left in space creating a very serious condition where space debris is orbiting earth in alarming numbers.
According to NASA, there are currently 500,000 pieces of major space debris being tracked travelling at speeds up to 17,500 miles per hour orbiting the Earth currently. A transforming satellite that can be repurposed will cut down on the number of space debris orbiting the planet.
A bright and less expensive new future in transforming satellite technology
There are numerous reasons that the ESA team decided to finally design a more practical version of the satellite. The first being the cost according to the ESA website, “The satellites developed under the Quantum umbrella will be cheaper and quicker to build compared to current methods by using generic subsystems and equipment, enabling larger-scale production and more efficient control of stock.”
The use of systems that can be easily transformed requires parts that are more generic, which actually lowers the cost of building each one of these satellites. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this project according to François Auque, Head of Airbus DS Space Systems, “Quantum is the first satellite that can be fully reconfigured in orbit. In other words, Eutelsat will be able to modify parameters such as frequencies, footprints and the distribution of the satellite’s allocated power, even after its launch.”
These new satellites will revolutionize the way we manage satellites in orbit, and benefit every person in the world.