24/7 Space News
SPACEMART
What if all telecommunication satellites stopped?
Airbus file illustration only
ADVERTISEMENT
What if all telecommunication satellites stopped?
by Staff Writers
Paris, France (SPX) May 17, 2023

Let's take a walk down memory lane and take a look at the birth of satellites, why they are so critical to life on Earth today and what things would look like in a world without such connectivity enablers.

Even those who weren't born at the time, have all heard of Sputnik, the first satellite launched in October 1957. A small sphere of steel sent into space by the USSR during the cold war, emitting a very recognisable "Beep... Beep...", demonstrating the ability of humankind to send an object in orbit around the Earth.

But what happened next? 1957 was just 66 years ago and many things have been achieved in the space industry since then. The second satellite was Sputnik 2, launched just one month later carrying the iconic dog Laika, paving the way towards inhabited spacecraft. Launches then followed, year after year, giving access to space to more and more countries. Today, more than 4,500 satellites are orbiting above our heads, always on, providing us with a wide range of services.

Why do we need satellites?
There are various reasons why we need to send objects into space. Some are sent for exploration. They go beyond the orbit of our beloved planet and are equipped with probes and sensors to monitor and study the various parts of our solar system. Others bring us to the Moon and tomorrow to Mars.

But these are the applications we are all aware of. Sci-fi movies and literature are full of these adventures, and people working in the space industry seem to be the new explorers. We are no longer surfing the oceans in the search of unknown land but rather exploring the universe, helping humankind evolve towards greater knowledge.

Yet there is a whole raft of other ways in which space is critical to our daily lives that we are not so aware of. How we connect to each other, physically or virtually is possible thanks to space, be it by providing us with the means to call our loved ones or by guiding us with sophisticated navigation systems. Satellites are also used everyday to safeguard democracy and help populations in case of natural disasters.

Just think...
When you press the light-switch at home, you expect the bulb to light up instantly. You don't even think about where the electricity comes from, where it was produced and how it was delivered to your socket.

Well, the same goes for connectivity! Think back to just a few decades ago, when you had to choose between your phone and internet connection. Today, we are ever more connected, expecting everything to be instantaneous, seamless and with ever increasing volumes of data.

Most of us live in highly connected and fast paced urban areas with terrestrial connectivity, but this is not representative of the Earth's surface as a whole: only around 1% of land is used for urban development. But when we cross the seas or the oceans, when we go hiking in the mountains or somewhere remote, these are the situations in which we need more than ever to be connected with the rest of the world: with GPS for guidance or with a network to call for help. This is why telecom satellites are essential.

Sometimes we may feel the need to disconnect. But for a one or two-week holiday, maybe three... What if you are not on vacation but are just living in a remote area? A place expanding and developing as never before? Wouldn't you still want to connect with your loved ones, have access to distance learning and benefit from all the knowledge of the internet and continue developing your economy?

Our ways of life have evolved so much and so fast that we could not go back to a world without communications satellites, which would mean overuse and saturation of existing terrestrial networks. There would be no more GPS signals, no more multi-channel broadcast TV. If telecoms and navigation satellites stopped working, this is what our world would look like.

Could satellites really stop working?
The disappearance of satellites from our lives could potentially be caused by things such as a natural disturbance from a geomagnetic storm. Such an event could cause serious damage to our overall communication and data transmission systems as well as power supply networks. This is one of the reasons why satellites like the Airbus-built Solar Orbiter are so important - it is helping us understand how the Sun's electrical and magnetic influence affects the technology we rely on.

Satellites could also suffer from the increase in space debris. As of today, we already have 21,000 pieces of debris larger than 10cm floating in space, and we could witness the Kessler effect in action: collisions between objects that would lead to a cascade of collisions, increasing the amount of debris and ultimately rendering all artificial satellites inoperational. This is why we need to learn from what we've done to our oceans and avoid repeating the same mistakes in space: we need an environment where debris is tracked, we need satellites' end-of-life phase to be properly managed and we also need robust space traffic management - just like air traffic management for planes.

So next time you're mountain walking and take out your phone expecting to instantly share a photo of your ascent to the peak, or you withdraw money from a cash machine, think about those invisible 'cables in the sky' that are working away to make it happen!

Related Links
Airbus
The latest information about the Commercial Satellite Industry

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters

RELATED CONTENT
The following news reports may link to other Space Media Network websites.
SPACEMART
Airbus Eurostar Neo Arabsat BADR-8 telecoms satellite shipped to launch site
Paris, France (SPX) May 10, 2023
Airbus' latest next generation geostationary Eurostar Neo satellite Arabsat BADR-8 has been shipped to Cape Canaveral, ready for launch. The satellite will provide connectivity over Europe, Middle East, Africa, and central Asia and also features a world first Airbus' innovative space demonstrator TELEO to provide space to ground optical communicationsc at gigabit speeds. Airbus' relationship with Arabsat stretches back 20 years, and BADR-8 is the eighth satellite built for the leading satellite se ... read more

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
SPACEMART
NASA selects winners, announces final phase of Space Food Challenge

ISS welcomes its first Saudi astronauts, in private mission

NASA harnesses US Navy spinning device to simulate spaceflight

'Startup Nation' Israel hopes to ride out storm

SPACEMART
China continues testing its 130-ton reusable liquid oxygen kerosene engine

New sensors with the HOTS for extreme missions

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deploys 22 second-generation Starlink satellites

Rocket carrying Saudi man and woman launches to ISS

SPACEMART
Remotely waiting in Gale: Sols 3832-3833

Perseverance captures view of Mars' Belva Crater

Martian crust like heavy armour

What's so special about large grains on Mars

SPACEMART
China's next space exploration to feature new faces

"Tianzhou Express" is online again, with five highlights

Tianzhou 6 docks with Tiangong space station

China's cargo craft Tianzhou 6 ready for launch

SPACEMART
Arlula secures $2.2 million in seed funding to enable global space data access

UK leads Europe in race for space investment, new report finds

Sidus Space contracts with Leaf Space for additional ground station coverage

UAE partnerships boost commercial space opportunities

SPACEMART
Origami heat shield: reusable for reentries

TransAstra receives Space Force contract to explore in-orbit propulsion systems

Momentus deploys Qosmosys satellite and on-orbit support of Caltech hosted payload

Raytheon Technologies upgrading Korea's FA-50 with PhantomStrike radar

SPACEMART
NASA's Spitzer, TESS find potentially volcano-covered Earth-size world

Astronomers observe the first radiation belt seen outside of our solar system

Researchers uncover how primordial proteins formed on prebiotic earth

Bacteria survive on radioactive elements

SPACEMART
NASA's Juno mission closing in on Io

Pioneer 11, launched 50 years ago, helped solve mysteries of the universe

NASA: Up to 4 of Uranus' moons could have water

New video series captures team working on NASA's Europa Clipper

Subscribe Free To Our Daily Newsletters


ADVERTISEMENT



The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2023 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.