May 16, 2022

This Week in Amateur Radio

North America's Premiere Amateur Radio News Magazine


Meet some of the oldest “undead” spacecraft that are still going strong

Believe it or not, according to the Index of Objects Launched into Outer Space maintained by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, there were 7,389 individual satellites orbiting our little planet at the end of April 2021 (others place the number closer to 6,500). This number is only set to increase over time, with some estimates coming in at around 990 satellites being added to the mix every single year. 

If true, by about 2028, we can expect to see somewhere in the order of 15,000 satellites orbiting Earth. This includes the massive increase in satellites scheduled to be deployed by companies like SpaceX in their Starlink constellation. The rise of small CubeSats, microsats, nanosats, etc, may also increase the number several-fold over the coming decades or so. 

Of the satellites in space, most are used for either commercial telecommunications or navigational purposes, with others used for scientific or military purposes.  

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