Number of Active Satellites Now Over 2,000 and Has Doubled in the Last Six Years

File photo: Artist rendering of the Department of National Defence Sapphire satellite used for Space-Based Surveillance. Credit: MDA.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has released its latest update on the number of active satellites in orbit which now number over 2000, double what was in orbit just six years ago.

The database is current as of March 31 and lists 2062 active satellites. Unofficially, that number has grown since March 31 with the addition of around 104 satellites including last weeks SpaceX Starlink launch of 60 satellites, though not all those satellites can be considered active as of yet.

Significantly, the increase of new satellites added in the past year grew by 15% and we can expect that number to jump even higher as companies such as SpaceX, OneWeb and others build out their initial constellations in Low Earth Orbit. In fact, we might see annual increases of 15% to 30% for several years before the rate decreases again.

UCS Satellite Database updates since 2011:

  • 2062 active satellites (March 31, 2019)
  • 1957 (November 30 , 2018)
  • 1,886 (April 30, 2018)
  • 1738 (August 31, 2017)
  • 1419 (June 30, 2016)
  • 1305 (August 31, 2015)
  • 1167 (January 31, 2014)
  • 1084 (August 31, 2013)
  • 1071 (May 31, 2013)
  • 1016 (July 31, 2012)
  • 965 (August 31, 2011)
UCS Satellite Database map of countries with satellites in 2016
UCS Satellite Database map of countries with satellites in 2016. Credit: UCS.

The graphic above indicates countries that have active satellites in orbit as of 2016. Several new countries have been added including Angola, Kenya and Ghana as the African map starts to fill out.

Canadian satellites

There are 37 active satellites that have Canada listed as the country operator/owner. Additional Kepler Communications has KIPP listed as being country operator/owner of the United Kingdom. Arabsat 7F (Nimiq 1) is listed as Multinational.

It might surprise you to know that Canada has only five active government satellites;

  1. Cassiope (operator/owner: Canadian Space Agency)
  2. NEOSSat (operator/owner: Canadian Space Agency)
  3. SCISAT (operator/owner: Canadian Space Agency)
  4. M3MSat (operator/owner: DRDC/Canadian Space Agency)
  5. Sapphire (operator/owner: DND)
  6. MOST (Microvariability & Oscillations of STars) (Listed as active but has been decommissioned but still in orbit) (operator/owner: Canadian Space Agency/Private)

There are six civil active satellites listed;

  1. Ex-Alta 1 (QB50 – CA03) (Note: the satellite was taken offline in Nov. 2018 and scheduled to re-enter and burn up in the atmosphere)
  2. BRITE-CA-1 (BRITE Toronto) (UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory)
  3. Can-X2 (Canadian Advanced Nanospace experiment) (UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory)
  4. Can-X4 (UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory)
  5. Can-X5 (UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory)
  6. CanX-7 (UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory)

There are 27 commercial satellites listed;

  1. Arabsat 7F (Nimiq 1) (Operator/owner: Arab Satellite Communications Org. (ASCO)
  2. AprizeSat 5 (Aprize Satellite)
  3. AprizeSat 7 (Aprize Satellite)
  4. Ciel-2 (Ciel Satellite Group)
  5. Nimiq 5 (Echostar Corporation – was Telesat)
  6. AprizeSat 9 (exactView-11) (exactEarth)
  7. exactView 1 (exactEarth)
  8. exactView 6 (AprizeSat 6) (exactEarth)
  9. exactView 9 (exactEarth)
  10. GHGSat-D (Greenhouse Gas Satellite – Demonstrator, Claire)
  11. KIPP-1 (Kepler Communications)
  12. Kepler-2 CASE (Kepler Communications)
  13. Radarsat-2 (Radarsat International – MDA)
  14. Anik F1  (Telesat)
  15. Anik F1R (Telesat)
  16. Anik F2 (Telesat)
  17. Anik F3 (Telesat)
  18. Anik G1 (Telesat)
  19. LEO Vantage 1 (Telesat)
  20. Nimiq 2 (Telesat)
  21. Nimiq 4 (Telesat)
  22. Nimiq 6 (Telesat)
  23. Telstar 11N (Telesat)
  24. Telstar 12V (Telstar 12 Vantage) (Telesat)
  25. Telstar 14R (Estrela do Sul 2) (Telesat)
  26. Telstar 19 Vantage (Telesat)
  27. Telstar 18 VANTAGE (Apstar 5C) (Telesat/APT Satellite Holdings Ltd.)

The number of Canadian commercial satellites should also increase significantly as Telesat, Kepler, GHGSat, NorthStar, UrtheCast, CB2.0 Communications, and Helios Wire all attempt to launch constellations of satellites of varying sizes over the next five years.

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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