Satellite technology has advanced significantly since the launch of the first artificial satellite Sputnik in 1957. Key milestones include the first weather satellite TIROS-1 in 1960, first commercial communications satellite Telstar 1 in 1962, and first GPS satellites in 1978.
Early satellites were large, expensive and limited in capability. Advancements in miniaturization, electronics, materials, propulsion etc. have enabled smaller, cheaper, more capable satellites. The rise of smallsats like CubeSats has been a major trend.
Satellite applications have diversified from early communications and Earth observation to now include broadband internet, IoT, space science, weather monitoring, surveillance and more. New players are entering across applications.
Large constellations of hundreds or thousands of satellites, especially in LEO, are being deployed for global internet access by companies like SpaceX, OneWeb, Amazon. This will exponentially increase satellites in orbit.
In-orbit servicing, life extension, orbital debris removal and other commercial space services are emerging based on rendezvous, proximity operations and robotics technologies.
Overall, satellite technology has progressed immensely, enabling transformative new space applications and businesses, but also raising challenges like space debris and traffic management. The industry is undergoing a phase of exponential innovation and disruption.