Small satellites updates

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Great news! Small satelites have now a lot of dedicated launchers, falcon 1e and Vega rockets are custom built to launch them in to LEO. Dont know if falcon1 or Vega is cheaper but a competition will always push the price down.


ESA | September 17, 2010

Flying your very own rocket with its model satellite - this was the challenge facing high-school students from all over Europe this summer for the first ever European CanSat competition in Norway. : CanSats in Europe

The CanSats in Europe online platform is an initiative of the European Space Agency (ESA) and its European partners. It aims to provide information about activities taking place in Europe. It also serves as a focal point for student teams to promote their projects and interact with each other.


Guest : College Students Help Develop Small Satellite with Big Plans

Satellites are big. They cost a lot of money. At least that's the impression a couple of University of Maryland-College Park students had when they applied for an internship to help construct a satellite instrument with scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. As the pair quickly discovered, nothing could have been farther from the truth.

To their astonishment, the satellite that Saman Kholdebarin and Lida Ramsey helped to develop was literally the size of a football. "I had no idea you could make these satellites so small," Kholdebarin said, recalling his surprise when his Goddard mentors explained the project to him. "I was astounded."

Jennifer Williams and Robert Carroll, Undergraduate Physics Students at Siena College Loudonville, N.Y., work on instrument electronics for the Firefly mission.

An image of what Firefly will be studying in the coming months. Credit: stock.xchnge

NASAexplorer | September 20, 2010

The small satellite, with a big mission, is appropriately named "Firefly." Sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the pint-sized satellite will study the most powerful natural particle accelerator on Earth — lightning — when it launches from the Marshall Islands aboard an Air Force Falcon 1E rocket vehicle next year.

Although no one knows why, it appears that flashes of gamma rays that were once thought to occur only far out in space near black holes or other high-energy cosmic phenomena are somehow linked to lightning.

Using measurements gathered by Firefly's instruments, Goddard scientist Doug Rowland and his collaborators hope to answer what causes these high-energy flashes. In particular, they want to find out if lightning triggers them or if they trigger lightning. Firefly is expected to observe up to 50 lightning strokes per day, and about one large TGF every couple days.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at:


Guest : NASA Awards Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers Contract
PRESS Release
Date Released: Saturday, September 25, 2010
Source: Kennedy Space Center

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. -- NASA has announced the award of the Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers, or P-POD, service contract to California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Calif. This new contract is an indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity award for five years with a maximum cumulative potential value of $5 million. The award will provide a broad range of P-POD services for NASA's CubeSat program.

CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites are approximately four inches long, have a volume of about one quart and weigh less than 2.2 pounds.

NASA has adapted the P-POD system for a series of small university-class, student-built satellite missions as part of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites program. This is intended to advance the objectives of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs within educational institutions.

The first launch is planned aboard a Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., in October 2011, on a mission to launch a polar-orbiting weather and environmental satellite.

NASA's Launch Services Program office at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida is responsible for management of the P-POD contract.


Guest : CU students help Lockheed Martin create satellite
By Ann Schrader
The Denver Post

Posted: 09/25/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

A satellite about the size of three Rubik's Cubes stacked together is bringing students and career aerospace engineers together.

The program of designing and building ALL-STAR (short for Agile Low-Cost Laboratory for Space Technology) gives hands-on experience to students at the University of Colorado-based Colorado Space Grant Consortium.

For Lockheed Martin, the tiny satellite — an 8.8-pound research vehicle that runs on power equivalent to a night light — offers a way to give back.

"The idea is to inspire and develop a future technological workforce," said Brett Tobey, an engineering director at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in south Jefferson County.

For about 100 consortium students, it means applying science, technology, engineering and math skills in a real-life situation.

"This program will provided exciting opportunities for our students," said consortium director Chris Koehler.

The consortium is one of several across the country that are funded by NASA. In Colorado, the organization involves 16 higher-education institutions.
Tobey estimated ALL-STAR will cost less than $100,000, a far cry from more high-profile, complex space missions.


Guest : Andrews Space Awarded Contract to Develop Imaging Nanosatellite for the US Army
Published by Klaus Schmidt

on Tue Sep 28, 2010 6:44 am

via: Andrews Space

Seattle, WA – The US Army Space and Missile Defense Command / Army Forces Strategic Forces Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) has contracted with Andrews Space (Andrews) to develop a nanosatellite to provide real time tactical imagery to the US warfighter.

The Small Agile Tactical Spacecraft (SATS) contract covers the development of a nanospacecraft capable of providing better than two meter imagery to the warfighter to support time critical tactical intelligence. The SATS demonstration program is one of several USASMDC/ARSTRAT efforts to use small spacecraft to support the warfighter.

Under the three phase SATS contract, valued at a total of $9.8 million, Andrews will develop a demonstration spacecraft capable of receiving tasking commands and transmitting tactical imagery and low frame rate video in real time to the warfighter in theater. Under the current Phase 1 effort, Andrews is completing the spacecraft system design and prototyping elements of the attitude determination and control system.

“Andrews is excited to be supporting this important mission need,” said Jason Andrews, President and CEO of Andrews Space. “Nanospacecraft technology is maturing very quickly and the systems are now available to build and operate very low cost platforms that can operate as a ‘webcam in space’.”

According to Chip Hardy, the USASMDC/ARSTRAT Program Manager for SATS, “USASMDC/ARSTRAT is focused on conducting responsive and affordable space technology demonstrations using cube/nano-satellites to validate the Army’s ability to deliver space-based capabilities and products to the ground commander through common Army systems. This effort is one of several important pathfinding initiatives to achieve that objective.”

The SATS demonstration program is designed to prove out the fundamental capabilities and operational concept for a constellation of low cost nanospacecraft that can provide revisit rates of less than ten minutes to theaters of interest.


Guest : IAI Made TECSAR Satellite Presented at Israel's President's Annual Open House
Sep 28, 2010


TECSAR Satellite

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) presented its TECSAR satellite model at the annual open house at the president's residence, held yesterday in Jerusalem.

TECSAR can deliver all weather global Image Intelligence (IMINT) via satellite: The Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Technology Demonstration LEO Satellite (TECSAR) delivers SAR high resolution images of any area of interest.

A powerful ground station is deployed to task new missions via the uplink, and for downloading high quality images via a high rate downlink, followed by further image exploitation and interpretation.

The SAR systems produce images that approach photographic quality and penetrate environmental barriers such as clouds, rain, smoke, fog and man-made camouflage.

TECSAR is a new generation, high performance Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) observation satellite.

TECSAR will provide very high day and night resolution images in all weather conditions. With a very low weight of just 300kg, the satellite will achieve extremely high mechanical agility. Combining high maneuverability with electronic antenna beam steering, TECSAR offers high-resolution coverage of large areas in mosaic form. TECSAR's unique ground coverage capability will provide customers with unprecedented usability and will overcome the limitations of other type SAR observation systems.

The new satellite can be used to collect a large number of high-resolution images per orbit or alternatively, many hundreds of medium resolution swaths. Using electronic beam scanning, TECSAR can also provide wide coverage at lower resolution.

The ground segment of the TECSAR system includes an exploitation station that performs automatic data processing activities such as target detection, change detection and target cluster indication. TECSAR is designed for a tight operation cycle, requiring a very short time from tasking to dissemination of exploited data.

TECSAR offers a very high quality cost-effective solution; with a low launch cost and capability for multiple ground station operations that will facilitate multi-user partnerships.

TECSAR Satellite Features:
Type: Low Earth Orbit
Mission: SAR High Resolution & Large Area Coverage
Three Axes Stabilized
Mass: 300 Kg (at launch)
Altitude: 400-800 Km
Solar Panels Output: 750W at EOL
Lifetime: Exceeds 5 years


Guest : Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd Builds for the Future
Source: Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd

Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2010


New Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd building under construction.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), in partnership with the University of Surrey's Surrey Research Park, is taking a new technical facility opposite its headquarters building in Guildford, UK providing the flexibility to work on a broader range of satellites and the capacity to integrate and test more satellites in parallel.

The 3,700sqm (40,000 sqft) $10 million pounds (UK) facility will provide cleanrooms, laboratories and testing facilities for state-of-the-art space engineering. It will house approximately 40 permanent staff and anything up to 100 further project specific staff from across the company at peak test and integration periods.

SSTL CEO, Dr. Matt Perkins, commented; "Our new integration and test facility will play a crucial role in our company's development. Not only will it enable us to integrate the European GNSS payloads for ESA, but it will make it possible for us to integrate and test satellites directly opposite our headquarters improving time to market with first rate intra-company communications."

Due for completion in April 2011, the new facility will be operating at full capacity as soon as it is opened when its secure cleanroom facilities will be used for the testing and integration of 14 navigation payloads for the deployment phase of Europe's future GNSS system.

The new laboratories & cleanrooms will bring the assembly, testing and integration of satellite platforms for SSTL's global customers into a single location, enabling engineers and project managers to participate in day-to-day decision making and mission reviews without leaving the site. The world-class test halls provide two 123 square meters walk-in thermal chambers, a seismic test platform with 16,000kg, 10,000kg & 8,000kg gantry cranes and reinforced floors, providing the greatest possible flexibility for integration and testing of small and larger spacecraft.

Construction is already under way, and the building is on target for opening in April 2011.

Visit SSTL on stand A5 at the IAC 2010

About SSTL

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL) is the world's leading small satellite company, delivering operational space missions for a range of applications including Earth observation, science and communications. The Company designs, manufactures and operates high performance satellites and ground systems for a fraction of the price normally associated with space missions, with over 300 staff working on turnkey satellite platforms, space-proven satellite subsystems and optical instruments.

Since 1981 SSTL has built and launched 34 satellites - as well as providing training and development programmes, consultancy services, and mission studies for ESA, NASA , international governments and commercial customers, with its innovative approach that is changing the economics of space.

Based in Guildford, UK, SSTL is owned by EADS Astrium NV.

Related : : Surrey Satellite unveils high-resolution space project
27 September 2010 Last updated at 23:59 GMT

By Jonathan Amos Science correspondent, BBC News, Prague


There is a burgeoning worldwide business in imaging the surface of the planet

A £100m project has been announced to launch three new British spacecraft to image the surface of the Earth.

The satellites, to be orbited in 2013, will be able to see details down to one metre at their best resolution.

It is a commercial venture between the spacecraft manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and its data processing subsidiary, DMCii.

Nations that would not necessarily need their own dedicated satellites will be able to buy time on the spacecraft.

"This constellation of three satellites will be owned and operated from the UK but the capacity on the spacecraft will be leased to different international customers," explained Sir Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of SSTL.


Guest : Russian Scientists to Orbit Nano-Satellite Constellation in the Next Two Years
:: 12.10.2010

A constellation of nano-satellites is to be launched by Russian scientists in the coming two years, GLONASS General Designer Yury Urlichich told news media, Prime-TASS reports.
According to Urlichich, evolution of space micro-technology began 5 years ago, when Russia launched its first nano-satellite.
“We are going to promote this branch”, he stated, adding that advanced samples of micro-spacecraft are available, though Russia fall behind in this business.
The only national micro-satellite was launched manually from the ISS by cosmonauts Salidzhan Sharipov. It was a 5-kg cylinder satellite developed by Space Instrumentation Institute. It’s orbital life lasted for 2.5 months, with the purpose to test Kospas-Sarsat radio buoy.
The second generation of national micro-satellites will use solar array power supplies in order to prolong their orbital life.


Guest : U.S. Defense Department Eyes Small Satellites for Flying UAVs Outside War Zones
Fri, 15 October, 2010

By Peter B. de Selding


Global Hawk. Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Matthews

NEW YORK — The U.S. Defense Department is investigating whether to field a group of small satellites — perhaps operated by commercial industry — that would assure communications with unmanned aerial vehicles flying on the edge or outside of conflict zones, military and industry officials said.

The project, called Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AISR), would feature satellites with four beams in Ku- and Ka-band to assure that sufficient satellite bandwidth is available for outrider Global Hawk or other unmanned aircraft without depriving satellite links to those in the thick of a conflict zone, officials said.

Despite the arrival of the Wideband Global Satcom (WGS) X- and Ka-band satellites, whose capacity dwarfs their predecessors in terms of throughput, the U.S. Air Force is concerned that demand on WGS capacity over the years will be greater than what is available on these spacecraft.

AISR would station satellites in geostationary orbit to assure that the unmanned craft would be able to beam their video and other data for relay to ground commanders even if WGS spacecraft were operating at near-saturation levels. The alternative would be to devote a WGS satellite beam to the Global Hawk operating on the periphery of a conflict zone, resulting in a shortage of in-theater capacity.


Guest : Satellite to demonstrate UK tech
18 October 2010 Last updated at 08:51 GMT

By Jonathan Amos


* The 150kg satellite should be ready to launch in about 18 months' time
* Payload participants will need to prove their readiness and pay their own costs
* If successful, TechDemoSat could become an ongoing programme

The UK is going to develop a satellite to trial innovative space technologies.

It is hoped the components and instruments flying on TechDemoSat (TDS) can prove their worth and go on to win substantial international business.

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) will lead the project.

Payload participants are likely to include a novel instrument to measure the state of the sea, another to track ships from orbit, and even one to destroy TDS at the end of its life.

The latter is a "sail" that would be deployed from the satellite to force it out of the sky to burn up in the Earth's atmosphere. Efficient technologies to retire defunct spacecraft are expected to have big markets in the future.

The core mission design of TDM is being funded with a grant of £770,000 from the UK government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA).

Assuming that all goes well, a further £2,730,000 will be released to move the project into the build and test phase.

"One of our key philosophies is to help companies overcome barriers to market," said the TSB's Michael Lawrence.

"There are a number of British-based space companies out there that have great technology but they need to demonstrate it in orbit. Hopefully, this initiative will help them prove the technology works and that will open up commercial markets for them," he told BBC News.
... : SSTL’s TechDemoSat-1 to demonstrate UK innovation in space (SSTL press release)

Small satellite pioneer Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) has today been awarded a grant to commence the design phase of a national technology demonstration satellite called TechDemoSat-1. The UK’s Technology Strategy Board and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) have together provided a grant of £770,000 to fund the core mission design elements. SSTL, UK industry and UK academia will fund the novel payload technologies and the grant will enable the final payload selection process to be completed. Following a successful design phase, a further grant of £2,730,000 will be released and that the programme will transition into the build and test phase.

UK organizations currently experience huge cost barriers and find it very time consuming to obtain a first flight demonstration for new equipment and technologies in space. The Technology Strategy Board and SEEDA aim to address this issue by providing an ‘in orbit test bed’ for UK technology. The rapid flight qualification model characterized by the TechDemoSat-1 programme has been proven to yield excellent return on investment for “UK plc”, with previous programmes such as the UK’s MOSAIC initiative of 2001 leading to export some 20 times greater than the original investment .


SDC : Recycled Military Jets Serve as Satellite Launchers
By Adam Hadhazy

posted: 25 October 2010
07:41 am ET

Space is quickly becoming a less remote place as dozens of universities and organizations prepare to launch small satellites in the coming years. For now, however, these mini-satellites must piggyback their way as secondary payloads, meaning operators have little control over the timing of a launch or on reaching a desired orbital altitude for their mission goals.

A number of companies aim to eliminate these when and where-to whims – not to mention cutting down on costs -- by offering dedicated small satellite launching services.

"Getting reasonable cost access [to space] for small spacecraft is really critical," said Kris Kimel, president of Kentucky Space, a private-public consortium waiting for its first small orbital satellite to be launched in 2011. "We need to get that kind of access that allows us to relentlessly innovate and quite frankly to fail more."

A recent entrant into this emerging field is NanoLauncher. The startup will rely on decommissioned military jets outfitted with a rocket to send relatively tiny payloads into suborbital and orbital flight paths.

The venture will initially operate out of the United States at established spaceports, such as NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Fla., Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and Vandenberg Air Force Base in Calif.

NanoLauncher plans to use existing technologies rather than create its own rocket or satellite deployment systems, said A.C. Charania, president of SpaceWorks Commercial, based in Washington, D.C. His company is working with three Japanese firms – IHI Aerospace, the Institute for Unmanned Space Experiment Free Flyer, and CSP Japan, Inc. – to get NanoLauncher off the ground.

Charania and others in his line of work envision the small satellite marketplace booming in the years to come.

"We're riding the nanosatellite wave," Charania said. "It's not an illusion."


Very nice page about CubeSats : : An Introduction to CubeSats

The CubeSat origin lies with Prof. Twiggs of Stanford University and was proposed as a vehicle to support hands-on university-level space education and opportunities for low-cost space access [REF1]. At its most fundamental level, the CubeSat can be defined as a discrete but scalable 1 kg1 100 x 100 x 100 mm cuboid spacecraft unit; this is now commonly referred to as a 1U(nit) CubeSat. Figure 1 shows a Pumpkin CubeSat Structure, with Clyde Space Solar Panels attached. The CubeSat definition is scalable, and so CubeSat units may be combined to produce larger mass and volume systems (up to 3 U CubeSats have been demonstrated in-orbit, and 6 U systems are proposed).


Figure 1: Pumpkin 1U CubeSat Structure with Clyde Space Solar Panels.
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