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Satellite Technology, Systems and Components

(Photo courtesy of MIT)


- Overview

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, as of January 1, 2023, there were 6,718 satellites orbiting the Earth. Satellites are objects that people build and launch into orbit using rockets. They come in all shapes and sizes and orbit the Earth at various altitudes, but most have some basic elements in common.

So what exactly is a satellite? Here's what they usually consist of:

  • The Bus: The bus is the primary structure of a spacecraft that houses the power and propulsion systems as well as communications systems and often the payload. The bus also contains the hardware and software used to control the spacecraft and electronic systems (or avionics).
  • Payload: A payload consists of a specific device or component designed to perform a specific function or perform a specific task, such as collecting and transmitting data, conducting scientific experiments, or providing communications services. These payloads can include cameras, sensors, antennas, transponders, or any other hardware required to fulfill the satellite's intended purpose.


- Components and Enablers

  • Satellite transponder
  • Antenna subsystem
  • Solar cell and battery backup
  • Ground stations / devices

[More to come ...]


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