2017 was a great year for engineering and tech. SpaceX, OneWeb, and Tesla provided some great technological advancements in 2017 (just to name a few). However, we’re already excited to see what 2018 holds for RF, engineering, and other technology innovations. Let’s take a quick look at some of our predicted tech and space trends for 2018!
SpaceX, OneWeb, and New Space Innovations
For starters, we can surely expect to see many more new and exciting innovations from SpaceX and OneWeb. Elon Musk of SpaceX is hoping to send human passengers on a trip around the moon sometime in mid-to-late 2018. The moon flight is scheduled to launch after SpaceX flies NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as a part of the Commercial Crew Program.
Along with completing its brand new manufacturing facility, OneWeb (CEO Greg Wyler was voted most powerful executive in 2017) will focus on its goal of deploying a global network of 720 low-Earth orbit satellites using the Ka (20/30 GHz) and Ku (11/14 GHz) frequency bands by 2021. This should allow 2.5 gigabits per second of internet access to be sent directly to rural homes.
Both SpaceX and OneWeb are proposing to deploy large constellations of non-geostationary-satellite orbit (NGSO) fixed satellite system satellites in the next few years. The growth and implementation of more ground-based satellites will also be necessary to achieve these innovations.
Speaking of space, manufacturing in space is likely to become a big trend in 2018. Space manufacturing will enable gravity and microvibration sensitive materials to be easily produced. Additionally, 3D printing in space would make it simple to manufacture parts and construct larger systems. Think of this as a giant version of Legos!
Military and Defense Innovations
With the passing of President Trump’s new defense bill, we can expect to see military and defense innovations and communications increase throughout 2018. Air and missile defense radar (AMDR) testing, GPS Disciplined Oscillator (GPSDO) implementations, and Laser Communication Payloads are all expected to become bigger trends in the coming year.
Laser communications could provide 10 to 100 times better data rates than radio due to higher bandwidth. This means that laser communications can transmit more data at a time than radio, even though both communication types can only travel as fast as the speed of light. Laser communications will also take up much less area and weight with the same level of performance (if not better).
Autonomous Vehicle Innovations
Finally, as autonomous vehicles and BLOS UAV flight plans come online, the need for GPS denial and spoofing, and alternative GPS and PNT, will be needed. New research and development is currently underway for new PNT and GPS solutions.
As for mass driverless cars, engineers must design major cost reductions in LIDAR systems. Currently, a LIDAR system alone costs around $75,000 per vehicle. For mass production of driverless cars to become a reality in coming years, costs of these systems must be cut by hundreds of dollars without hindering performance.
To stay fresh with all of these innovations (and more) in 2018, be sure to sign up for Bliley’s news list. We’ll send you periodic engineering news and innovations in the RF, satcom, new space, and defense industries as soon as they arise.