The past few years has seen a tremendous increase in the number of satellite systems deployed to meet the need for exponentially growing bandwidth demands. Indeed, the advent of High-Throughput Satellites (HTS) have sought to address this need, but bandwidth improvements have been incremental, at best. With the form factor of traditional geostationary satellites limited largely by volumetric constraints of their launch vehicle, it remains dubious to anticipate disruptive changes to the Pareto frontier that exists between coverage area and throughput for these networks in the near future.
The recent interest in small satellite networks, those below 500 kg per satellite, has made headway to addressing the discrepancy between bandwidth demands and network capacity. A key limitation of such networks however remains in their ability to scale exponentially as a result of their per-mass performance of each satellite. There exists a subtle nuance of satellite communications that the unit mass of a spacecraft, and thus the lifecycle cost, decreases more rapidly that unit performance as the satellite form factor is reduced. Thus, there exists an optimal network in terms of Mbps/kg as the satellite size is reduced to the lowest pragmatic mass. In practice, this implies that a network comprised of nanosatellites, with a launch mass of less than 10 kg, will be more optimally suited to meet the coming demands for exponentially increasing bandwidth.