Can you launch your own satellite into space?

Space has changed. Previously accessible only to governments and their respective agencies and militaries, modern commercialisation of space-related technologies has opened the door for private enterprises to compete.

This has seen companies launch their own rockets and satellites, but what about individuals or small groups? 

Can you build and launch your own satellite, and how much does it cost to launch a satellite for those looking to compete in the growing ‘NewSpace’ industry? Let’s start from the top.

What is a satellite?

A satellite, in technical terms, is any celestial body that orbits a planet. However, when we talk about satellites in common terms, we mean the artificial craft built and launched by humans, mostly to perform their roles while orbiting Earth.

Usually when we talk about satellites, we mean conventional satellites which are huge, heavy, and practically impossible for all but large agencies and businesses with either vast funding or plenty of their own financial capital.

However, the miniaturisation of technology and falling costs of components means that a satellite can now be a craft that fits on a coffee table. CubeSats are a common form of nanosatellite that use commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components, making them much more accessible.

Can you launch your own satellite into space?

Launching a small satellite is a simpler feat than launching a conventional one, due to their small size and low weight making them ideal as ‘rideshare’ payloads. These satellites piggyback on rockets, and as such they cost a lot less to launch.

That having been said, costs are relative and launches can still cost thousands, but they are far more achievable than conventional launches. Launching your own large satellite would also require a rocket specifically to launch that satellite, whereas ridesharing can be negotiated with a company or agency with access to that technology.

How much does it cost to launch a satellite?

Launching conventional satellites costs upwards of tens of millions, whereas launching CubeSats and other small satellites as piggyback payloads costs around £23,700 per kilogram of weight.

There may be additional costs to consider if you’re utilising the International Space Station to aid in CubeSat deployment.

How Bright Ascension can help with the cost of launching a satellite into space

Big or small, satellites need software to carry out their roles. This is so that the spacecraft can handle communications, data transfer, and even propulsion and attitude-correcting manoeuvres despite being far out of reach of their engineers.

For this reason, the software needs to be robust, effective, and—given the nature of CubeSats and their COTS components—affordable.

Bright Ascension’s Flight Software Development Kit addresses all of these needs, giving small satellite operators an affordable way to create the exact software package they need using a library of pre-validated components. This allows even flight software to be a COTS solution that’s simple to integrate.

To find out more about Bright Ascension’s software for satellites, contact us today.