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Handbook of Small Satellites

Technology, Design, Manufacture, Applications, Economics and Regulation

  • Reference work
  • © 2020


  • Provides the latest data and resources
  • Covers satellites currently in orbit or planned for launch
  • Explores applications and services, design and manufacture, launch arrangements, ground systems and regulations
  • Includes supplementary material:

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About this book

In the past decade, the field of small satellites has expanded the space industry in a powerful way. Hundreds, indeed thousands, of these innovative and highly cost-efficient satellites are now being launched from Earth to establish low-cost space systems. These smallsats are engaged in experiments and prototype testing, communications services, data relay, internet access, remote sensing, defense and security related services, and more. Some of these systems are quite small and are simple student experiments, while others in commercial constellations are employing state-of-the-art technologies to deliver fast and accurate services.
This handbook provides a comprehensive overview of this exciting new field. It covers the technology, applications and services, design and manufacture, launch arrangements, ground systems, and economic and regulatory arrangements surrounding small satellites. The diversity of approach in recent years has allowed for rapid innovation and economic breakthroughs to proceed at a pace that seems only to be speeding up. In this reference work, readers will find information pertaining to all aspects of the small satellite industry, written by a host of international experts in the field.

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Table of contents (82 entries)

  1. Introduction

  2. The Many Types of Small Satellite

  3. The Technical Challenges of Designing and Implementing Small Satellite Systems and Projects

Editors and Affiliations

  • Executive Board, International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, Arlington, USA

    Joseph N. Pelton

  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, USA

    Scott Madry

About the editors


Dr. Joseph N. Pelton is an award-winning author and editor of some 50 books and over 300 articles in the field of telecommunications and networking, space systems, future technologies, and urban planning. His book Global Talk won a Pulitzer Prize nomination and won the Eugene Emme Literature Award of the International Association of Astronautics. In July 2013, he received the British Interplanetary Society International Award known as “The Arthur” in honor of Arthur C. Clarke. Dr. Pelton also received the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement award in 2001 and the IAASS “da Vinci Award” for lifetime achievement. Most recently he won the Guardian Award of the Lifeboat Foundation, which was previously won by Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffet.
Dr. Pelton is the Founding President of the Society of Satellite Professionals International, the Founder and former Executive Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation, and played a key role in the founding of the International Space University. He announced the formation of the Clarke Foundation at the White House in 1983 while he was acting as the Managing Director of the National Committee for World Communications Year – A US Presidential Appointment. He played a role in the formation of the Arthur C. Clarke Center on the Human Imagination at the University of CaliforniaSan Diego in 2012 as well as a new STEM education exhibit at the National Electronics Museum that opened in September 2018. He also currently serves as Director of Research for Planetary Defense LLC. His degrees are from the University of Tulsa (B.S.), New York University (M.A.), and Georgetown University (Ph.D.) His most recent books include: Preparing for the Next Cyber Revolution, Space 2.0: Revolutionary Advances in the Space Industry, The New Gold Rush: The Riches of Space Beckon, Smart Cities for Today and Tomorrow, Digital Defense, and The Farthest Shore: An 21st Century Guide to Space (2nd Edition). He is currently assisting the Hudson Foundation with a re-examination of global space policy. His web page is: www. He resides in Arlington, Virginia.

Associate Editor:

Dr. Scott Madry is a Research Associate Professor of Archaeology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also serves as the President of Informatics International, Inc. Dr. Madry lectures all over the world on the applications of space technology for remote sensing and Earth observation, including its many use for disaster response and recovery and natural and cultural resource management. He is a proponent of open source software and has presented over 150 short courses around the world on the use of free and open source geomatics tools.

Dr. Madry is a well-published author in the field of space applications and geomatics, having published 6 books and over 75 papers and articles. His books include: Space Systems for Disaster Warning Response and Recovery; Global Navigation Satellite Systems and Their Applications; the Handbook for Satellite Applications (1st and 2nd editions); Innovative Design, Manufacturing, and Testing of Small Satellites; and Disruptive Space Technologies and Innovations: The Next Chapter. He has conducted archaeological field research in Burgundy France for over 30 years, has been a three-time Fulbright Scholar, and was twice awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for his work with the American Red Cross and the URISA GISCorps.

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