Detailed satellite 3D model.
At the beginning of the space age, satellites were launched only by launch vehicles, and by the end of the 20th century, the launch of satellites from other satellites, such as orbital stations and spacecraft (primarily from the Space Shuttle Space Shuttle), was also widespread. As a means of launching satellites, it is theoretically possible, but so far MTCT spacecraft, space guns, space elevators have not been implemented yet. Already after a short time after the beginning of the space era, it became usual to launch more than one satellite on one launch vehicle, and by the end of 2013, the number of simultaneously output satellites in some launch vehicle launches exceeded three dozen. During some launches, the last stages of the launch vehicles also go into orbit and in fact become satellites for a while.
Unmanned satellites have a mass from a few kilograms to two tens of tons and size from several centimeters to (in particular, using solar batteries and retractable antennas) several tens of meters. Spaceships and spaceplanes that are satellites reach several tens of tons and meters, and combined orbital stations - hundreds of tons and meters. In the 21st century, with the development of microminiaturization and nano-technologies, the creation of ultra-small satellites of the Kubsat format (from one to several kg and from several to several dozen cm) became a mass phenomenon, and a new format pocketsat (literally pocket) of several hundreds or tens of grams and a few centimeters.
Satellites are predominantly created as non-returnable, however, some of them (first of all, manned and some cargo spacecraft) are partially returned (having a descent module) or completely (spaceplanes and satellites returned on board).
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