NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
Small-Satellite Mission Failure RatesThe purpose of this report is to determine the failure rate of small-satellite missions launched between the years 2000 and 2016. This analysis considers the rates of both partial and total mission failure, as well as the failures attributable to failure of the launch vehicle. This study observed that between the years of 2000 to 2016, 41.3% of all small satellites launched failed or partially failed. Of these small satellite missions, 24.2% were total mission failures, another 11% were partial mission failures, and 6.1% were launch vehicle failures. The small satellite failure data reveals an increase in the failure rate as the yearly launch rate has increased. The period 2000 to 2008 averaged 15 launches per year, during which 28.6% of the small satellite missions failed or partially failed. The period from 2009 to 2016 averaged 48 launches per year, during which 42.6% of the small satellite missions failed or partially failed. The launch vehicle failure rate for both periods was the same at around 6.1%. The implication is that for modern small satellite missions, almost one out of every two small satellite missions will result in either a total or a partial mission failure. Counting the partial mission successes as “successful missions” reduces the failure rate, but only to 38.2% for the period 2009 to 2016.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Ames Research Center
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Jacklin, Stephen A.
(NASA Ames Research Center Moffett Field, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
April 24, 2019
Publication Date
March 1, 2019
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 340428.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
Technical Review
NASA Peer Committee
Small Satellite
No Preview Available