The first internationally-agreed requirements for small spacecraft have been published. The technical specification states the minimum requirements that every small spacecraft needs to comply with, regardless of its mission.
According to a recent report by SpaceWorks, there was a 205 percent increase in small satellite launches in 2017 compared with 2016,1) with forecasts expecting spacecraft production to continue to soar.
Producing spacecraft involves specific requirements that newcomers to the market may not be aware of.
ISO/TS 20991, Space systems – Requirements for small spacecraft, aims to help harmonize the sector by detailing the requirements for various stages of the small spacecraft system lifecycle.
Paul Gill, Chair of the ISO technical subcommittee that developed the document, said that up to 2,600 small spacecraft are estimated to launch over the next five years, with many of these launches to be made by new operators.
“ISO/TS 20991 will be of great benefit to small spacecraft developers—as well as launch operators—by providing the minimum requirements to ensure their safety and debris mitigation,” Gill said.
“[The technical specification] covers everything from the design, launch, deployment, operation and disposal, which will also give newcomers to the industry a means to access space—typically the domain of large companies and governments.”