Satellites are complex electromechanical devices composed of many interconnected systems designed and constructed to support the specific functions for which the satellite is intended. Because satellites are very expensive and are inaccessible once in operation, satellite systems must be designed and constructed with the highestquality components. At each stage of manufacture and deployment, punctilious quality control must be in place, and redundant systems are used where possible for backup purposes. Small errors in components, manufacture, assembly, and even shipping can result in multi-hundred-million-dollar losses. All of these factors contribute to the high cost of the typical satellite.
(There is said to be a standing joke in the naval architecture business that when designing a ship, you are not ready to “cut metal” until the weight of the blueprints equals the projected weight of the ship. In the business of satellite construction, the weight of the blueprints and documents exceeds the satellite’s final weight many times over!)
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