"Spaceflight favors big rockets and small technology but when technology gets small enough, it may act very differently from traditional satellites and spacecraft.

And that tipping point may not be all that far away, with engineers having already flown tiny satellites that stretch just 1.3 inches (3.5 centimeters) across. With these tiny satellites come the potential opportunity to produce hordes of them, turning one large device into a host of smaller, cheaper ones.

"Right now these things are toys, but if folks decide to work on it, we can turn them into tools it just takes effort," Pete Klupar, director of engineering for Breakthrough Starshot, the initiative to send a credit-card-size satellite to a neighboring solar system at incredibly fast speeds, told "We have to do a lot of work to get them to the level of reliability and technology that they're actually valuable." But he said the Breakthrough Institute is excited to be pursuing these tiny satellites, and he expects more and more company in that work. "

Cubesats are currently the standard small satellite, but some spacecraft designers are pushing their creations ever smaller.
(Image: NASA) ...!