Satellite Applications Handbook: The Complete Guide to Satellite Communications, Remote Sensing, Navigation, and Meteorology


This chapter introduces what is meant by the term “applications satellite” and addresses why it makes sense to address the four main space applications in a consolidated reference work. This handbook also provides a multidisciplinary approach that includes technical, operational, economic, regulatory, and market perspectives. These are key areas whereby applications satellite share a great deal. This can be seen in terms of spacecraft systems engineering, in terms of launch services, in terms of systems economics, and even in terms of past, present, and future market development. This is not to suggest that there are not important technical and operational differences with regard to communications satellites, remote sensing satellites, global navigation satellites and meteorological satellites. Such differences are addressed in separate sections of the handbook.

Yet in many ways there are strong similarities. Technological advances that come from one type of applications satellite can and often are applied to other services as well. The evolution of three-axis body-stabilized spacecraft, the development of improved designs for solar arrays and battery power systems, improved launch capabilities, and the development of user terminal equipment that employs application-specific integrated circuits (ASIC) are just some of the ways the applications satellites involve common technology technologies and on a quite parallel basis.

These applications satellites provide key and ever important services to humankind. Around the world, people’s lives, their livelihood, and sometimes their very well-being and survival are now closely ties to applications satellites. Clearly the design and engineering of the spacecraft busses for these various applications satellite services as well as the launch vehicles that boost these satellites into orbit are very closely akin. It is hoped that this integrated reference document can serve as an important reference work that addresses all aspects of application satellites from A to Z. This handbook thus seeks to address all aspects of the field. It thus covers spacecraft and payload design and engineering, satellite operations, the history of the various types of satellites, the markets, and their development – past, present, and future, as well as the economics and regulation of applications satellites, and key future trends.