What Are Satellites and How to Launch Your Very Own. For Real.

Updated: Feb 3

You’ve certainly heard of satellites. But do you know what they are? Satellites are yet another wonder of outer space.

Satellites help you talk to your grandma, play online games, watch movies, and can even show you the way to school. Pretty neat, right?

What’s even cooler is that by the end of this article you’re going to find out how to launch your very own satellite. Before you get too excited, hold on a minute! You’re not launching anything until you learn exactly what satellites are and why they are so important.

After all, if you want to one day become an astronaut, you must know your space terms. So let’s begin!

What are satellites?

Satellites are space objects that go round and round other objects that are waaaay bigger!

Think about the Moon, for example, and how it revolves around Earth. To describe its circular movement, scientists use the verb “to orbit”. Given the fact that the Moon orbits the Earth, we can say that the Moon is a satellite.

Even Earth is a satellite. Think about it. Can you figure out why? The Earth is a satellite because it orbits the Sun (meaning it goes in circles around it).

In fact, all planets from the Solar Systems are satellites of the Sun. And some planets have satellites themselves. Saturn, for example, has 82 satellites!

All of the above are natural satellites. However, when people use the word “satellite”, they usually refer to those satellites made and launched by humans, known as artificial satellites.

The story of man-made satellites began with Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, launched in 1957.

Since then, tens of thousands of satellites have been sent into orbit by more than 40 countries. Whoa, right? Today, there are around 5000 working artificial satellites still in space. The biggest one? The International Space Station.

But...why do people launch satellites?

Why are satellites important?

Artificial satellites are mega important because they help people do stuff like watch TV, speak with friends in foreign countries, use the internet, get directions, and even learn if it’s going to be sunny or rainy.

How? By passing on signals. Your TV uses signals. Your phone uses signals. Even your maps mobile app uses signals.

Now imagine this. Let’s say you had a friend in Japan. If you wanted to call him from your mobile phone, a satellite (in space!) would receive the signal.

Then, it would send the signal back down in Japan, where your friend would answer.

How amazing is that? And imagine that all this happens with ultra speed, multiple times a second!

But there’s another unbelievable thing satellites can do.

They can take pictures of Earth! Because they fly so high up in space, above mountains and clouds, satellites can capture tons of pictures with amazing details.

By studying these images, scientists can learn more about our world and the Universe.

Who can launch artificial satellites? You can too!

Well, you can’t just launch a satellite into space. To do that, you need a bunch of stuff.

First of all, to launch a satellite into space, you need approval. A space agency or another space division needs to give you permission.

Secondly, you need to actually build your satellite. For that, you need a power source and an antenna - and this is just for the most simple satellite.

And last but not least, you need a rocket to attach your satellite to. That’s how it will get into space.

If you do a quick calculus, you’ll see that building and launching a satellite is pretty expensive.

Plus, it’s so complicated! You need to know a lot of physics, maths, and engineering to put everything together.

So how can you launch your own satellite into space? Because we said you can and we meant it. Listen up...

Your Nanonaut awaits!

Junior Astronaut will help you launch your own satellite!

Together with our friends from Virgin Orbit, we’ll help you launch your very own little satellite, called a Nanonaut.

The satellite is already built (hurray!) and it is ready to take off with the LaunchOne amazing rocket.

Once it does, you’ll be able to track and watch it as it makes its way through space. Can you imagine how awesome that would be?

So what are you waiting for? Now that you know what satellites are, discover everything about our Nanonaut program and launch your own satellite!