Tag Archive for: Cubesat

SAIC is partnering with startup Rogue Space Systems to develop small satellites for in-space services, the two companies announced on Sept 20th.

Based in Reston, Virginia, SAIC is a $7.4 billion government services technology contractor. Rogue Space is a two-year-old startup based in Laconia, New Hampshire. The company designed a cubesat known as Orbital Robot for in-orbit services such as inspection and repairs. 

According to the agreement announced Tuesday at the Air, Space & Cyber conference, SAIC will integrate two Rogue cubesats for a planned 2023 mission. Going forward, SAIC will help develop Rogue’s fleet of Orbital Robots for space situational awareness, in-space services, assembly and manufacturing.

“SAIC and Rogue bring unique skills and expertise that will support the growing demand for services in Earth orbit, the cislunar domain and beyond,” said David Ray, senior vice president of SAIC’s space business unit.

Part of SAIC’s space business strategy is to partner with smallsat developers that need access to integration and testing facilities.

Jeromy Grimmett, CEO of Rogue Space, said SAIC’s government expertise will help reach new customers. “We are excited to partner with SAIC as we serve the growing demand for in-space services and space situational awareness,” he said. “SAIC will also help Rogue identify business development opportunities.”

Rogue is one of dozens of small businesses selected by the U.S. Space Force’s SpaceWERX organization for a program known as Orbital Prime. The company submitted 13 proposals and 11 of them won Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I awards, adding up to about  $2.75 million in funding.

Also last year, SAIC joined Space Foundation in announcing the first inclusive space cohort of six companies representing small, minority-owned and women-owned businesses for a joint Space Commerce Entrepreneurship Program. The six companies were selected based on diverse capabilities and ability to meet the mission-critical needs of SAIC Space sector customers.

The announcement was made at the Space Commerce Entrepreneurship Program luncheon held at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs in conjunction with the 36th annual Space Symposium, the premier assembly for the global space ecosystem, hosted by Space Foundation. The luncheon featured presentations from SAIC, Space Development Agency (SDA), and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on high-level objectives and capabilities required for future missions.

The Space Commerce Entrepreneurship Program helps small businesses and individuals navigate the global space ecosystem through its Workforce Development Roadmap. The program was first successfully piloted in 2019 in workshops across the continental U.S. by Space Foundation’s Center for Innovation and Education under a U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency grant and today offers live workshops and online programs in collaboration with public and private enterprises, government agencies, universities, accelerators/incubators, and local communities. Entrepreneurs gain key insights that address the most common challenges in conducting business in the space industry. A complementary Junior Space Entrepreneur Program, offered for teachers and students, was recognized by Fast Company with a 2020 World Changing Idea award.

SDA is requesting proposals for a demonstration of laser communications between orbiting satellites and aircraft in flight.

As it prepares to start deploying a mesh network in low Earth orbit, the Space Development Agenc (SDA) is looking out for proposals for a demonstration of laser communications between orbiting satellites and aircraft in flight.

Last month, the agency issued a “special notice” asking vendors to submit by Sept. 2 proposals on how they would conduct a live demonstration of laser crosslinks between SDA’s Transport Layer satellites and a moving aircraft.

An SDA-funded experiment to test out this technology was launched in June 2021 but was unsuccessful. General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems launched two cubesats carrying optical communications terminals to test inter-satellite links but the cubesats never reached their intended orbit and the company was unable to establish contact. One of the goals of the experiment was to establish optical communications between the satellites and an optical terminal on a General Atomics unmanned aircraft. 

In the new solicitation, SDA asks vendors to figure out a way to connect one or more of the 20 Tranche 0 Transport Layer satellites — projected to launch in September — with an aircraft that would be chosen by the vendor. 

SDA is interested in a live flight demonstration but also would consider a phased experiment, starting with space to ground, space to a moving ground vehicle, and space to an airborne platform.

“This demonstration is concentrated on space to airborne test only to research, design, develop and test,” said the solicitation. “Testing must include successful demonstration of pointing, acquisition and tracking, and the capability to acquire and maintain the link with stability to pass up to 1 gigabit per second test data.”

Experts say optical communications between air and space is a tough technical challenge due to the difficulties of pointing and navigating while maintaining a link to a moving aircraft. It also requires correcting the turbulence in the atmosphere that interferes with lasers.

Benchmark Space Systems unveiled a collision-avoidance kit, at the Small Satellite Conference, which is designed to help small satellites dodge debris and steer clear of other spacecraft.

Benchmark is taking orders for its “Cola Kit,” which the company plans to begin shipping to customers in early 2023.

The Cola Kit is the size of a two-unit (2U) cubesat.

“If you give me 2U in an ESPA class [satellite], I can give you two to 10 collision-avoidance maneuvers for $100,000 to $150,000,” Chris Carella, Benchmark executive vice president of business development and strategy, told SpaceNews.

Benchmark developed the Cola Kit in response to demand from prime contractors that are equipping their spacecraft with electric propulsion systems but still lacking the ability to maneuver quickly in response to conjunction alerts.

“They are flying these high-cost, high-value assets, but they have this vulnerability that’s just not acceptable,” Carella said.

Orbital conjunctions are becoming more frequent thanks to the growing number of satellites launched and detailed information on objects in orbit being provided by companies.

The Cola Kit is our “response to all the great data that the space domain awareness and space traffic management companies are coming out with,” Carella said. “The Cola Kit is a cheap, small, lightweight insurance policy for your high-cost asset.”

Benchmark’s Cola Kit combines the company’s chemical propulsion tanks and thruster, which have flight heritage, with control electronics, inlet and outlet manifolds, and an adjustable mount.

In addition to avoiding collisions, the Cola Kit is designed to give satellites and orbital transfer vehicles the ability to perform controlled deorbits.

“We think the demand is strong enough for Cola Kits that when we have capacity on the production floor, we’ll use it to build metal plasma thrusters and Cola Kits,” Carella said.

Benchmark is forging partnerships to market Cola Kits with several electric propulsion and space traffic management companies. The first company to sign-on was space safety startup Scout Space.

“Scout will deploy our fleet of in-space and on-orbit systems to provide continuous situational awareness services to support sustainable space operations,” Scout CEO Eric Ingram said in a statement. “Scout and Benchmark have shared missions in the past and we have strong synergies in our respective roadmaps that highlight several opportuawnities to work cooperatively to bring pre-integrated, bundled solutions to benefit the market.”

Italy’s D-Orbit mentioned on Aug. 9th that it would launch 20 nanosatellites over three years for Swiss startup Astrocast with its orbital transfer vehicle.

The first mission under their agreement is slated for no sooner than November 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9, which will launch D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier with four Astrocast satellites onboard.

Each satellite in this batch is 3U, or the size of three cubesats, and will be dropped off at a 500-600-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) to improve coverage for Astrocast’s internet of things (IoT) constellation.

D-Orbit plans to launch another batch of six 6U satellites for Astrocast in 2023 and 10 more in 2024 to complete the launch agreement.

Astrocast currently has 12 3U satellites, including two test spacecraft, and aims to expand its network to 20 satellites before the end of 2022. 

In addition to D-Orbit, Astrocast chief financial officer Kjell Karlsen said the Swiss operator also has launch agreements with U.S. rideshare provider Spaceflight this year.

Astrocast plans to grow the constellation to 40 satellites in 2023 and to operate 100 of them by 2025.

To help fund this expansion, Astrocast — which already trades as a public company on Norway’s Euronext Growth Oslo stock market — is looking to raise 60-80 million euros ($64-86 million) by listing shares on the Euronext Growth Paris junior stock market.

The company had been preparing to complete this offering of shares this summer, but “global market conditions prevented it,” Karlsen said. “We are now working with our advisers to determine the right window for the offering,” he added.

In May, Astrocast said it plans to issue new shares to buy Dutch connectivity solutions provider Hiber, which agreed to invest around $11 million in Astrocast’s second stock market as part of the acquisition. Karlsen said that the acquisition is contingent on Astrocast’s secondary stock market listing in France, “but we have full confidence that we will meet it and close during 2022.”

Fabien Jordan, Astrocast’s CEO, said in a statement: “It is important for European space companies to work together to find solutions that increase the competitiveness of European space, and we believe that working with D-Orbit enables this for Astrocast,” Astrocast CEO and co-founder Fabien Jordan said.

Following the launch with D-Orbit via U.S.-based SpaceX, Jordan said Astrocast is looking forward to “potential future missions on European rockets.”