In the next few years, tiny ears and eyes in the sky, built and manned by Singapore engineers, could help to track ships and planes, and stop piracy and illegal fishing.
The satellites will collect weather and climate change data, and monitor the Earth's environment by, say, mapping changes in river courses and catching firms that are cutting down trees illegally.
Some of them will even help make Global Positioning Systems (GPS) more accurate, and test state-of-the-art encryption technology to keep communications secure.
A record six Singapore satellites are expected to launch from an island in India next year to do some of these tasks.
ST Electronics, ST Engineering's electronics arm, is launching one, the National University of Singapore (NUS) will put two into the sky, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will have three.
American firm Spire, which set up a Singapore office last month, will also have at least 20 nano-satellites in the air by next year to collect data.
The firm, which has raised US$25 million (S$31.7 million), plans to hire at least 100 people for the office here in the next five years. They will help to research and build hardware and software for the satellites, assemble and test them, and analyse the data collected. "Our goal is to build dozens of satellites out of the Singapore office," Spire chief executive Peter Platzer told The Sunday Times last week.
The developments are a shot in the arm for Singapore's space ambitions, which were set out last year when the Government opened the Office for Space Technology and Industry (OSTin) under the Economic Development Board (EDB).
OSTin's mission is to plan and execute economic strategies to grow Singapore's space industry.
The US-based, non-profit research organisation Space Foundation said the global space economy grew 27 per cent from 2008 to US$314 billion last year, and the Asian satellite industry is poised for a bigger piece of the pie, OSTin believes.