Drones and Satellite Technology

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Contents

What are Drones

An example of a Drone

A drone refers to any aerial vehicle that receives remote commands from a pilot or relies on software for autonomous flight. Many drones display features like cameras for collecting visual data and propellers for stabilizing their flight patterns. Used in the sectors as videography, search and rescue, agriculture and transportation have adopted drone technology. They are also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as there is no pilot on board. [1]

Drone Technology

Drone technology consists of a combination of hardware and software components, Rotors or fixed wings, sensors, LiDAR detectors, navigation systems, and gyroscopes for stability. As they are unmanned drones are operated by ground control stations. Overall to achieve a successful takeoff, flight, and landing. [2]

Types of Drones

The four types of Drones: Single-Rotor, Multi-Rotor, Fixed-Wing, and Fixed-Wing Hybrid Drones

The four types of drones are single-rotor helicopter, multi-rotor drone, fixed-wing drones, and a fixed-wing hybrid VTOL drone (Vertical Takeoff Landing).

Single-Rotor drones look like smaller helicopters and are powered by gas or electric sources. They are also built for longer distance flights.

Multi-Rotor drones are the smallest and lightest drones in the market. As they are the smallest, it means that they have a limited distance, speed, and height they can achieve in flight. The average amount of air time these drones are in the air is about 20-30 minutes. These drones are perfect for using as as hobby such as photography.

Fixed-Wing drones look similar to a normal airplane. They also takeoff and land on runways like airplane with a ground control system. Typically these drones can be in the air for more than 16 hours. They are also ususally used by the military.

Fixed-Wing Hybrid VTOL models are a combination of fixed-wing and rotor-drones which allow for a more verstile flight experience. This type of drone is still in future development. [3]

Power Source of Drones

Diagram of the Top Power Sources of Drones

The four most common power sources of drones are battery, gasoline, hydrogen, and solar-powered. Depending on the type of drone and how long each flight is there are some power-sources that are better suited. Batteries for drone is the most popular overall. They are light-weight and are able to provide enough energy for flights. However, the batteries have a shorter-life span of the amount of time to re-charge and not environmentally-friendly. For most commerical drones, hydrogen fuel is one of the most popular. This power-source povides a longer flight time than drone batteries, allowing for more variety in use. However this would be more costly compared to battery. Solar-power technology is still improving and there is an increase in research to develop the limitless power from the sun. Researchers are developing and trying out new methods of technology of how drones can be powered. [4]

Current Use of Drones

Snapchat's version of the flying camera drone
JD.com Drone and its payload for takeoff


1. Personal Use Personal use drones are aimed for people using them as a hobby for filmmaking, still photography, and gaming. Drones come in all sizes with GPS, multiple cameras, and first person control. [5]

Snapchat created their version of a flying camera called Pixy in April 2022. For $230, it was designed to be paired with the Snapchat App to take photos and videos. It was battery powered to last for short 5-8 trips before needing to recharge. It was sold for a limited amount of units before Snap decided to reprioritze their development efforts elsewhere. [6]


2. Government Use Drones were first developed for military use and surveillance. There are numerous reasons for drones usage in research and development, target decoys for missions, supervision, and in war.

The example we used in class was in the war between Russia and Ukraine, where Russia has ramped up its use of Iranian-made “suicide drones” in Ukraine, which travel in groups and explode by diving at their targets, obliterating themselves in the process. [7]


3. Commercial Use For business use, the delivery service of drones is becoming a steady growth sector. Although it is still a young industry it is in the early stages with manufacturers in Europe, Asia, and North America. As it becomes cheapers, the door will open to allow a waide array of uses in a niche environment. The process of a typical drone delivery is as following:


1. An order is placed

2. The order is received, processed, and packaged

3. A drone is loaded before taking off to a specific drop off point

4. The drone hovers above its destination and lowers the package to the ground, where it is received by the customers

5. The drone returns to the hub/home [8]


The example we brought to class was from JD.com. Once the government in China increased the payload of how much the drones can carry, JD.com started to create an efficient delivery system. They optimized their business process by having fixed routes for the drones to fly to. Once they reach the end of their route, trucks and drivers will finish the delivery process to their customers indiviually. This allows consumers from remote areas to order from the company and allows the company to innovate their delivery processes to meet their consumers needs. [9]

Pros of Drone Delivery

It is quieter, faster, and consumes less GHG and energy compared to trucks and planes.


Cons of Drone Delivery

It is still a very individualized market compared to trucks with its premium niche. There needs to be more consideration of the weather conditions to fly the drones.

Drones used in Agriculture

In Myanmar back in 2018, drones were used to distibute seeds into remote areas of the country where trees were not growing initially. A year later, those seeds have cultivated and is now a use case for the potential innovation of how technology can be used to support the climate change crisis. Without the use of drones is would take a significantly longer amount of time to plant these trees. [10]

Drone Regulations in Canada

Drone License Sample‎

Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR)

Canadian air space is regulated by the Canadian Aviation Regulation (CAR). In Canada, to fly drones that weigh between 250 grams and 25 kilograms (kg), a drone pilot licence must be obtained. Drones that weigh under 250 grams do not require a license. Ages 14 to 16 are eligible for basic licenses while ages 16 and older are eligible for advanced licenses. Ages younger than 14 must have a supervisor with a license. [1]

Basic vs Advanced licenses

If all 5 conditions stated below are met, a basic license will suffice:

  1. Drone will be in uncontrolled airspace
  2. Drone will fly more than 30 metres (100 feet) horizontally from bystanders
  3. Drone will fly over bystanders
  4. Drone will fly more than 3 nautical miles from a certified airport or a military aerodrome
  5. Drone will fly more than 1 nautical mile from a certified heliport

If any of the outlined conditions are not met, an advanced license will be required. [2]

Legal Requirements When Operating Drones

The Canadian Aviation Regulation has outlined the following rules when operating a drone:

  • Fly drones that are marked and registered
  • Have the drone within the driver’s sight
  • Must be below 122 meters in the air
  • Respect all other laws while flying a drone: Trespass, Privacy, and Offences against Air or Maritime Safety [3]

Penalties

No Drone Zone Sign in Canada‎

The Canadian Aviation Regulation has outlined the following penalties for failure to comply with outlined regulations:

For individuals:

  • Up to $1,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
  • Up to $1,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
  • Up to $1,000 for flying where you are not allowed
  • Up to $3,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk

For corporations:

  • Up to $5,000 for flying without a drone pilot certificate
  • Up to $5,000 for flying unregistered or unmarked drones
  • Up to $5,000 for flying where you are not allowed
  • Up to $15,000 for putting aircraft and people at risk [4]

Timeline of Drones

1783
1783: The First UAV‎
  • From a technical standpoint, hot air balloons are considered to be the first UAV. These crafts were the first air crafts to not require a human pilot as they were not equipped with cockpit automation and flight management systems which reduces the workload of pilots allowing the term 'unmanned aerial vehicle' (UAV) to come to life. [5]

1849

  • UAVs known as Balloon Bombs are used for the first time for military purposes by Austria against Venice. It is important to note that these Balloon Bombs were ineffective in the war. [6]

1896

  • A camera was attached to a UAV for the first time. Alfred Nobel, also known for his invention of the dynamite, launched a rocket with a camera on it and took a photo. [7]
1898
1898: The First Radio-Controlled Craft
  • Nikola Tesla displays his radio-controlled boat in Madison Square Garden. The boat responded to the directional signals provided by Tesla and had the ability to flash its lights. At this time many believed Tesla to be a magician of some sort. Some even believed that there was a monkey inside the boat trained to move at Tesla’s command. [8]

1935

  • Considered by many, the first modern drone, De Havilland DH 82B Queen Bee aircraft was developed and used as a low-cost radio-controlled drone developed for aerial target practice. [9]

1941

  • Created by Actor Reginald Denny, the Radio Plane is introduced as a radio-controlled target plane. Target drones were produced for the military. Actor Denny’s company had produced almost 70,000 target drones for the US Army by 1952. He was also responsible for numerous drone technology innovations. [10]
1943
1943: Boeing BQ-7
  • Boeing and the U.S. Airforce developed the BQ-7, which operated on a crude First-Person View (FPV) flight system. Old bomber planes were stripped of non-essential equipment and loaded with explosives. A human pilot would fly the aircraft toward a designated target. Once the target was in view the pilot would eject from the plane. The BQ-7 would then fly to the target on its own and explode on contact. [11]

1973

  • Israel displays a leap in the capabilities of drones by developing UAVs for surveillance and scouting known as the Mastiff and the IAA Scout series. This ultimately allowed Israel Military commanders to increase their situational awareness with these platforms significantly. [12]
1982
1982: The Battle of Jezzine
  • The legitimacy of UAVs in warfare was established through a war between Israel and Syria also known as the battle of Jezzine. This is the first battle that drones make a considerable difference in their outcome. Israel employed their drones to outmaneuver the Syrian Airforce and win the battle with minimal casualties. [13]

1985

  • The successes of Israel’s UAV program in the early 1980s made it clear that drones would have a growing role on the battlefields of the future. Therefore, the USA significantly scales up their drone production and programs. [14]
1996
1996: The First Predator Drone
  • USA develops the first predator drone. This drone brought weaponized drones to the battlefield in ways that could have never been imagined. Predator drones are able to be remotely controlled and fire missiles at high accuracy against targets. [15]

2006

  • Upon the disaster left behind by Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Aviation Administration (FDA) permitted UAVs to fly in civilian airspace for search & rescue and disaster relief purposes. Predator drones were seen in a new light as they were used to detect heat signals of humans from up to 10,000 feet away using their thermal cameras. Many businesses saw the potential of drones at this time and began to invest in drone technology. [16]
2013
2013: DJI Phantom Drone
  • DJI produces the first phantom drone, a popular consumer camera drone. This signifies the beginning era of consumer-purposed drones for recreational and personal uses. [17]

2014

  • The use of drones rapidly grows in industries, customers, and use cases. Many companies begin exploring how drones can make their work easier, safer, and cost-effective. [18]

2020

  • The COVID-19 pandemic allowed society to further recognize the value drones can add. The pandemic introduced quarantine and social distancing enforcement to mass disinfection and medical supply delivery assistance. Many drone regulations are being adjusted to provide fast-track authorizations for promising use cases. [19]

Immediate Future Uses of Drones

Drones in Agriculture

Agriculture

Drones are being used to improve the overall efficiency and outcome in the agricultural industry. The primary uses of drones in agriculture currently are maintenance of crop health through automated processes in the watering, fertilization, and pesticide dispersal. Drones can also be used to monitor equipment health within farms as well. Furthermore, drones collect real-time data allowing farmers to understand quickly the current health of their farm and the necessary data-based actions they should take. The future of drones in agriculture suggests that drones could be used as automated mechanical pollinators. This would be greatly beneficial to our society as it would increase the yield rates helping directly solve issues such as food insecurity and shortages. [20]

Drones in Health Care

Health Care

Since the pandemic, drones have found a new purpose worldwide: delivery of healthcare supplies and goods, revolutionizing not only the medical industry but the delivery logistics industry as well. In the medical industry, time is extremely valuable, seconds could mean the difference between the life and death of patients. Therefore, there has been a trend in the delivery of not only medical supplies such as COVID-19 but other items such as lungs. [21] In September 2021, the first ever transplant of lungs was delivered through a drone from the Toronto Western Hospital to the Toronto General Hospital. This entire delivery took a mere 6 minutes, signifying the huge potential of drone deliveries with regard to medical equipment and transplant organs. [22] The future of drones in health care suggests that drones could be used as ambulances in the future saving significant time for patients to be treated. These drones would be similar to a helicopter but less costly, safer, and more suited for civilian-filled areas.

Drones in Search and Rescue

Search and Rescue

Search and rescue has been a staple of drone usage since Hurricane Katrina. These drones are equipped with thermal sensors allowing them to locate the position of lost and missing persons. Additionally, these drones can drop supplies at inaccessible locations and conduct remote assessments. [23] For example, drones are currently being used as lifeguards in California to save people from drowning. These drones act as the first responders by delivering lifejackets to distressed swimmers allowing them to float while backup arrives. Through the use of drones, on-foot searches that take hours can be completed in minutes. Furthermore, drones can map out locations to pinpoint the most optimal entry for rescuers as well as act as a third eye during the operation both day and night. [24] The future of drones in search and rescue suggests that drones will no longer need a human operator in search and rescue missions and that these tasks will be automated. Through advancing technology, it is expected that drones will be able to navigate even through the most complicated terrains and environments significantly saving costs and lives. [25]

Military

Drones in Military

Drones have revolutionized the modern-day definition of war by introducing new uses ranging from targeted assassination, mine-sweeping, search-and-rescue, logistics, IED demolition, and armed patrol, in addition to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), as well as other related activities. It is important to note that traditionally drones are operated singly or in small groups by their own designated operator. Currently, drones are being designed and tested to be used as drone swarms, a large number of drones that are programmed to work in a coordinated manner with the help of artificial intelligence. This signifies an innovative yet terrifying future for drones in the military sector. Furthermore, the future of drones suggests that drones will become an autonomous fighting force of their own that is capable of making its own decisions through artificial intelligence. This signifies another potential revolution in the definition of war which may lead to significant changes in the methods of drone war combat. [26]

Ethical Implications and Concerns of Drones

Privacy Concerns With Drones

Privacy

As the production and purchases of drones increase so does the risk of privacy. The majority of drones are equipped with cameras and other sensors that can be used to collect data and images. However, this raises concerns, when data and images collected, are non-consensual. Furthermore, there have been increased cases where personal drones are being used to spy on people. In the UK, there have been a few cases where people are taking it as far as posting these photos and videos online. Unfortunately, there are not enough regulations to keep up with the evolving and growing technology. These points bring up ethical considerations such as what constitutes a trespass with drones and do people own their vertical space. If yes, how should these laws be regulated moving forward to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected? [27]

War / Drone Strike Concerns

War / Drone Strikes

It is without a doubt that drones play an important role in and have evolved the military industry. Unlike humans, drones do not need to rest, have night vision, and can easily access risky places and locations. However, with the increasing ease of winning military battles comes the ethical considerations of whether using drones is moral. The USA believes that drone strikes are more ethical and moral than any other form of combat such as airstrikes or ground troop deployments. According to the Obama Administration, drone strikes are more accurate and less disruptive meaning that fewer civilians are killed and fewer casualties are left behind. Furthermore, they argue that drone strikes inside combat zones and war zones are ethical as they conform to established notions of just war theory. Critics argue that drone strikes become unethical when they are conducted in non-combat zones. Another consideration regarding drone strikes is their pollution and environmental harm from the explosions and toxic remnants. [28]

What are Satellites

A satellite is an object in space that orbits or circles around a bigger object. There are two kinds of satellites: natural (the moon orbiting the Earth or the Earth orbiting the sun) and artificial (the International Space Station or the Hubble Space Telescope) satellites.

There are many natural satellites in our solar system. The Moon is a natural satellite of Earth that was discovered by Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 - 1543)and it was the only known satellite before Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) discovered more natural satellites orbiting Jupiter.[29]

Artificial satellites did not become created until the mid-20th century. The very first man-made satellite was Sputnik 1, a Russian beach ball-sized space probe, that was launched into low earth orbit on October 4th, 1957. The launch of Sputnik 1 shocked much of the western world as it was believed the Soviets did not have the technology to send satellites to space[30]. This was said to have sparked the "Space Race" between the two countries.
Sputnik 1

Types of Satellites

There are many different types of satellites in space, but the following will classify them based on their height above the Earth's surface and the type of orbit in which they are positioned in.

Low Earth Orbit Satellite

Low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites orbit between 200 to 2000 km above the Earth's surface. This area of the Earth is densely populated but it is ideal for communications, military, and imagery applications. Most of the man-made objects orbiting the Earth are in the low earth orbit, they are less costly to launch and have a smaller field of communication with Earth than at any other altitude[31]. Some examples of LEO satellites include Starlink, Amazon Kuiper, the International Space Station, and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Medium Earth Orbit Satellite

Medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellites orbit between 2000 and 35, 786 km above the Earth's surface. Historically, these satellites have been used for GPS and navigation. It brings fiber-like performance to remote areas where it is not viable, such as the aerospace sector, maritime, offshore platforms, humanitarian relief, and other sectors and operations[32]. The most well known MEO satellites are the network of GPS satellites that many of our devices rely on for location. Some examples include USA - Navstar, Russia Glonass, and China Compass

Geostationary Earth Orbit Satellite

Geostationary Earth orbit satellites (GEO), also known as high Earth orbit satellites range from above 35, 789 km above the Earth's surface[33]. At a high altitude, they follow the Earth's rotation and are designed to remain at the same spot as seen from the Earth. These satellites provide the delivery and collection of television, weather services, and low-speed data communication. Some examples are INTELSAT, GALAXY, and HOTBIRD[34].

Current Use of Satellites

Satellites play an important role in our everyday lives. They contribute to our well-being and make it possible for us to fulfill our day-to-day tasks [35]. Some modern applications of satellites include communication, broadcasting, navigation, weather prediction, collecting scientific data, and military use[36].

Communication

Communication satellites are the most cost-effective way for communities to access telecommunication services. They receive signals sent from satellite dishes, also known as ground stations, on Earth, and then are bounced back down to another satellite dish. Communications, such as telephone calls, internet data, and radio and TV broadcasts are all sent into space in the form of radio waves[37]. In addition, they are used by search and rescue teams to provide geolocation data to ships and places and provide remote access to teachers worldwide. Some examples of this would be the M3MSat and Schoolap. Transmissions via satellite communications systems can bypass the existing ground-based infrastructure, which is often limited and unreliable in many parts of the world [38].

M3MSat
M3MSat is a Canadian Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite that was launched in June.21, 2016. Its first task was to provide new technology opportunities to improve Canada's ability to locate ships and manage maritime traffic from space and to test a device that could change the way we monitor the health and safety of satellites in orbit[39].

Schoolap is an open online school platform that allows education accessible to everyone in any place of the world. In 2020, a partnership with Eutelsat Communications will provide internet access to 3600 remote private schools in Africa leveraging the use of Eutelsal's satellite communication capabilities[40].

Navigation

Similar to how some of our ancestors once used the stars to guide their way, we can too will the help of navigation satellites. Global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) are a network of satellites, known as constellations, that transmit radio signals from the medium earth orbit and provide positioning, navigation, and timing services on a global scale. They send signals that report where they are and at what time and with that information, it is used to determine where you are in the world. Some examples of navigation satellites include Russia's GLONASS and USA's NAVSTAR.
RUSSIA GLONASS

GLONASS was the first Global Navigation Satellites system developed by the Societ Union. It was first launched in 1982 and the constellation has grown ever since. The GLONASS constellation provides visibility to many satellites depending on your location. A minimum of four satellites is communicated to compute its positions and send information back on to the ground stations. As each GLONASS satellites reach the end of its service life, it will be replaced with the next generation of satellites[41].

USA NAVSTAR
NAVSTAR, originally called Navstar GPS, was developed by the US government and operated by the US Space Force in 1973. It relies on a swarm of 31 satellites to provide positioning and navigation data 95% of the time. The NAVSTAR constellation orbits the earth's surface every 12 hours emitting continuous signals. Ground stations received these signals and use them to calculate time, location, and velocity with high accuracy[42].

Science and Technology

Entrepreneurs, Scientists, and researchers use satellites to test their ideas, scan for opportunities and create experiments with how different materials survive in space or how improved lenses and radars can help us see more of Earth. Some of these satellites help improve our understanding of the origin, formation structure, and evolution of celestial bodies and the universe. Other satellites give us the ability to study physics and the effects of different phenomena, such as the impact of solar flares on the earth's magnetic field. In addition, satellites with these capabilities allow for new technology upgrades, remote work, and testing that has never been done from the ground. With the advancement of technology, satellites have been through iterations that have allowed them to become smaller, cheaper, easier, and faster to develop[43].

QUEYSSat

QUEYSSat is a Canadian satellite that demonstrates quantum key distributions in space. Essentially it creates virtual encryption codes that are used for online banking, smartphones, computers, and cloud computing[44].

Imaging, Monitoring and Surveying

Some small satellites consist of tiny cameras and lenses which can help us see and measure detailed changes across the world. These satellites provide essential information to help us forecast and track what is happening around us[45].

Farmers use satellite images to monitor plant growth and estimate crop productivity, they help maximize crop yields while reducing energy consumption and help foster the development of sustainable agriculture by optimizing the use of lands and resources.

One-millionth image of Sermilik Fjord in east Greenland taken with RADARSAT-2 that shows the rugged coastline of Greenland

RADARSAT satellites allow farmers to accurately detect crop characteristics and weather conditions through cameras and imagery capabilities. They provide agricultural imagery that measures moisture levels in our soil and assess crop health avoiding the recessive waste of fertilizer, pesticides, and water[46].

Engineers use satellites to monitor ground movement so that the bridges and roads we travel on remain stable. Having access to this data allows us to identify potential issues on a project and take actionable steps before damages or delays happen. Data is readily available which means Engineers won't need to take trips onsite and can easily process, manage, and monitor in a timely manner alerting any changes as soon as it is captured[47].

InSAR satellites measure changes in land surface altitude and provide images to a targeted area using radar and recording signals. Additional technology companies are able to analyze data captured by InSAR and create insights and risk management properties on ground movement. Their algorithm allows for measurements and imagery in any weather conditions[48].
Image taken from InSAR that depict ground velocity in San Francisco Bay area

Scientists and researchers use weather satellites to monitor weather forecasts, climate change, and the pre and post-effects of natural disasters like volcanic eruptions, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Weather satellites can cover the entire earth asynchronously or hovering the same spot in the geostationary earth's orbit. While these satellites detect the movement of storms and cloud patterns they have the capability of detecting other phenomenons such as fires, pollution, ocean currents, and energy that allows us to predict the occurrence of natural disasters[49].

DSCOVR is a weather satellite that was launched in 2015. It was the first deep space satellite that can observe space weather. It maintains real-time solar wind and geomagnetic storm monitoring capabilities[50].

New Entrants of the Satellite Industry

Starlink

Starlink is the satellite internet constellation operated by SpaceX[11] that currently provides access to 40 different countries. Starlink launched their first satellites in 2019, and now have 3000 in orbit and provide internet access to 500,000+ subscribers. [12]

In April 2022, 20,000 Starlink land satellites were donated to Ukraine and used as a source of communication for Ukraianians and the Ukrainian military when phone and internet communications were destroyed. On September 8th, 2022, the Senior Director of Government Sales for Starlink wrote to the Pentagon stating costs of keeping satellites in Ukraine have gotten too high with year end expectancy reaching $124M in costs to SpaceX. Officials from SpaceX have asked the U.S. Department of Defense to pick up Ukraine’s new requests for internet and phone communications and ongoing services. [51] As of December 5, 2022, Starlink has revealed a military variation of Starlink satellites titled "Starshield". Starshield is said to focus on government use while Starlink satellites remain to be consumer oriented [52].

SpaceX launching next batch of Starlink Satellites to Earth's lower orbit

Project Kuiper

Amazon has launched Project Kuiper, a low Earth satellite constellation that will provide fast, affordable broadband internet to unserved and underserved communities around the world. Project Kuiper has goals of environmental sustainability with their satellites, mitigating the risks of orbital debris by working with astronomers and others in the industry to reduce the visibility of Kuiper satellites prior to launching. [13]

Amazon launching Project Kuiper

Ethical Implications and Concerns of Satellites

Congested Lower Space Orbit

Astronomers are increasingly raising concerns about the effect of constellations on ground based astronomy and the number of satellites in Earth’s lower orbit will create a congested orbital environment. China’s Space Station was reportedly forced to take evasive action twice in 2021 to avoid colliding with Starlink’s Satellites. 5000 satellites currently swarm the planet's immediate environment, and Starlink's commercial satellites intend to exceed the already crowded number. [53]

Space Debris

As of January 2022, there are 23,000 pieces of space debris orbiting Earth’s lower orbit. Pieces of debris originate from broken satellites or space crafts. Much of the orbiting debris is too small to be tracked by the International Space Station or ground-based astronomers, so it remains orbiting and threatening human spaceflight as well as robotic missions. Space debris has a travel capacity of speeds up to 15,000MPH in the lower Earth orbit. [54] Suggested solutions for space debris include engineering or managerial solutions of nets, harpoons, lasers that can catch the debris. Critics have noted that adding these solutions into Space may further contribute to the risk of crowding the lower orbit and increasing collision risks of other space matter [55]. Satellite operators aren't accounting for the cost of their satellites imposing on other operators or potential debris, and there are no clear consequences in place.

Space debris from human spacecrafts has resulted in 23,000 pieces floating within Earth's lower orbit

Light Pollution

Light pollution is the excessive or inappropriate use of outdoor artificial light that affects our ability to observe stars and other celestial objects. People around the world are living under a nighttime glow of artificial light, which causes implications for humans, wildlife, and the environment. Artificial light can affect natural body rhythms in both humans and animals. Artificial light is light that shines where it is neither wanted nor needed. There is no where on Earth, except in the polar regions where light pollution cannot be seen. With an increase in satellites, orbital collisions are more likely to threaten and create more artificial light. Astronomers, to protect their research, have and will need to employ image processing techniques that remove background glow and artificial light from their photographers of Space. [56]

Mega Constellations of Satellites

Mega constellations of satellites is an ongoing concern from Astronomers that an increasing amount of satellites launched in Earth’s low orbit. Light reflecting off of satellites has potential to ruin observations by leaving streaks across images. Bright trails of individual satellites overhead an astronomer’s observations. The number of satellites projected to exist in Earth’s lower orbit is projected to exceed 100,000 by 2030. [57]

A large number of satellites orbiting Earth will cause issues for Astronomers and contribute to problems of space debris

Kessler Effect

The Kessler Effect is a phenomenon named after former NASA Scientist Donald J. Kessler that noted space collisions are inevitable as more satellites are put into orbit. Increases of collision threats meant all objects in orbit would collide, keep colliding, and generate space debris. In 2009, Kessler moduled results concluding space debris in the lower orbit was already unstable. Every satellite, space probe, and crewed mission launched has the potential to create space debris. [58]

Kessler Effect states everything in Earth's orbit will collide and keep colliding

Restrictions of Space

Artemis Accords

NASA’s Artemis Accords shares the visions and principles of a space treaty with goals of a safe and transparent space environment. Several countries including China and Russia will not sign the Artemis Accords, stating concerns that the United States is assuming responsibility instead of the United Nation. [59]

Space Warfare

Regulations produced for Earth’s lower orbit concerns the complexity of preventing collisions and associated geopolitical intentions. International Treaties, including the Artemis Accords state use of space must be used to benefit all with collaborations ultimately developing global goals. Countries China, USA, Russia, and Japan are increasingly creating concerns for NASA and the International Space Station for igniting space warfare. [60]

Russia - On November 15, 2021, Russia began testing anti-satellite weapons attempting to destroy or damage neighboring space stations. Impact from the launch produced debris posing risk to the International Space Station and low orbiting satellites. [61]

China - On Sunday November 27, 2022, the US military noted China’s increasing risk and presence to Space. China has conducted missile tests producing dangerous amounts of space debris in recent years. China now controls the only working space station other than the International Space Station that is managed by the USA and European Space Agency. [62]

USA - The US Space Force was initiated in 2018 by former President Donald Trump. The developed space military branch plans to dominate space. [63] Media:https://youtu.be/5lEaLcumd08




Final Thoughts & the Future of the Satellite Industry

The satellite market currently make sup for the largest part of the space economy. While satellite revenues have primarily come from services including television, we may see near expansion into applications that range from consumer broadband to mobile connectivity through the Internet of Things. With this information, we may expand into sectors of "space-as-service" applications with a projected expansion of $17 billion in annual sales by the year 2040. [64].

For consumers, the increase in satellite technology will lead to better internet connection, acccessibility, and general resources for different service areas. Space is now more competitive and crowded and focuses for space are leaning towards technology and digitial telecommunication tourism. Most new entrants of the industry, including Amazon's Project Kuiper and SpaceX's Starlink are focused on more mundane ways that we can utilize space technology of satellites to transform our everyday lives on Earth for efficiency and productivity. [65]

Geopolitical tensions continue to rise for countries China, Russia, and USA who are unwilling to abide to established regulations of NASA and the International Space Station. It is likely space warfare will prevail as tensions increase and treaties are not signed. World leaders who decide to create weapons for destruction of other space creations disrupt science, astronomers, Space, Earth, and future scientific practices.

Authors

Lily Chau Yu Bin Chae Karen Feng Rachel Dee
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada
Beedie School of Business
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, BC, Canada

References

  1. https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/learn-rules-you-fly-your-drone/flying-your-drone-safely-legally
  2. https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/learn-rules-you-fly-your-drone/find-your-category-drone-operation
  3. https://tc.canada.ca/en/aviation/drone-safety/learn-rules-you-fly-your-drone/flying-your-drone-safely-legally#legal
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