Suddenly, everyone from the U.S. government, commercial satellite companies, universities and even high school students needs to have a small satellite.
And that is fueling another boom, in Southern California and across the West, in companies dedicated to giving the satellites a ride to space.
By one estimate, 210 satellites weighing less than 110 pounds will be launched this year, to do such things as map the Earth, expand broadband access and track packages on shipping vessels. That's up from just 25 launches in 2010. The number is expected to double again in five years.
In the last six months, at least half a dozen new launch vehicle firms aimed at the small...