U.S. military leaders are bullish about small satellites as tools to spy on adversaries and provide secure communications, but there’s just one problem: There isn’t a good way to get them into space, on demand.
Inspired by NASA’s partnerships with rocket makers like SpaceX, the Pentagon is turning to private industry, as half a dozen companies, most backed by venture capitalists, are working to launch small satellites more cheaply than ever to meet the demands of a growing number of small-satellite startups.
“There’s already a lot of commercial money going into development for these boosters,” Todd Master, a program manager at the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency told Quartz at the Space Symposium, a conference bringing together space companies and government officials in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “But nobody is asking them to be much more responsive. Our discussions with them are: Could you go faster? Could you go from anywhere? And they’re like, ‘Yeah, but nobody is asking us to do that.’”