[Images L-R clockwise: NTU EEE & Singapore's first locally-built satellite X-SAT; NTU EEE & Singapore's first satellite AOBA-Velox III launched from the ISS; NTU EEE's Satellite Research Centre set up since 1999]
Launch rates in Asia are set to eclipse U.S. figures by 2025, showing that the region is on the path to reap significant returns. The benefits of Asia’s proliferation of smallsats include disaster management, agriculture, fast and affordable data, job creation and an expected new wave of business opportunities.
North America, especially the United States, is currently the clear market leader for smallsat activity, according to Northern Sky Research, but within eight years the field will change. Universities and government players across Asia have been active in developing and deploying smallsats, and commercial activity is now growing. The majority of smallsats launched during the last five years have been for technology development, though an underlying factor in many of these projects is education, as they are largely pursued by university students, including those from NTU EEE!
In the past, launch access was limited to the selected few, but today China, Japan and India have provided ease of access to each country’s launch facilities, resulting in unprecedented smallsat activities, explains Lim Wee Seng, executive director of the Satellite Research Centre at NTU EEE.
Singapore is a newcomer in the satellite sector, however, it has grown significantly in the past few years, explains Wee Seng. From the early stage, where only NTU EEE was driving the development of satellites, there are now more research institutes, companies and start-up activities in Singapore.
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