Annual update from BARSC member Pixalytics on the number of satellites currently orbiting the Earth shows an 8.91% increase since last year.
According to the Index of Objects Launched into Outer Space maintained by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), there are 4,635 satellites currently orbiting the planet.
So far in 2017, UNOOSA has recorded 357 objects launched into space. This is almost 50% more than have ever previously occurred in a single year, and there are still a significant number planned during the rest of the year.
This increase is fuelled by small satellites and cubesats. New technology has significantly reduced the cost to design, build and launch these, and this has been accompanied with an increase in commercial providers becoming involved in the market. A report issued earlier this month by the Satellite Applications Catapult predicted that 1 300 of these satellites will be launched over the next three years. If you consider that just under 7,900 objects have been launched into space, this would equate to 16.5% of the total launches over the last 60 years!