NanoAvionics is gearing up for the SpaceX Transporter-2 rideshare launch on 29 June, with several satellite missions from its customers, promising to have a positive impact on businesses and communities in remote regions on Earth, as well as pioneering an ionic liquid electrospray propulsion system.
“Both of our satellites onboard Transporter-2 were some of our quickest from-contract-to-orbit projects to date and despite the pandemic and a shortfall of components that others have felt, NanoAvionics hasn’t had any supply shortage nor any delays in its lead times and production of satellite buses,” said Vytenis J. Buzas, co-founder and CEO of NanoAvionics. “We build 95 percent of our satellites’ subsystems in-house and have a controlled supply or stock of components and raw materials. That puts us in a good position, for now, to continue building our micro- and nanosatellite buses on schedule.”
The first of the two nanosats onboard Transporter-2, named “D2 / Atlacom-1”, is a shared mission comprising an international consortium and its partners called “HyperActive”, and an electric propulsion demonstration by Accion Systems. The 6U shared satellite mission is dedicated to an in-orbit demonstration of new satellite technologies as well as several novel satellite applications. Among those applications are the world’s first 1U-sized hyperspectral imager to be ever flown, a new 1U Tiled Ionic Liquid Electrospray (TILE) propulsion system, a new high-gain X-band antenna, and an upgraded X-Band downlink transmitter.
Accion Systems said its TILE-3 propulsion system, sponsored by an ongoing US government propulsion program, is low-cost, compact, low pressure, and has less than 50% of the power draw of other propulsion technologies. It combines the use of safe, inert liquid propellant with a simple mechanical design and few moving parts.
“The ‘D-2 / AtlaCom-1’ satellite contains unique hyperspectral technology payloads and is an interesting case for successful and fast-paced space collaboration across three continents,” said F. Brent Abbott CEO of NanoAvionics US. “It took us only eight months to build, test and launch the satellite even though hosting many different instruments on-board a shared satellite requires extensive configurations.
The consortium partners for the mission, brought together through NanoAvionics’ shared satellite service, consist of Dragonfly Aerospace from South Africa, Space JLTZ from Mexico, and NanoAvionics US as a supplier to the consortium. It also includes mission contributors Polytechnical University of Atlacomulco (Mexico) and CUBECOM (South Africa).
The generated data from HyperActive program will be used to develop solutions to improve agriculture yield and livestock, detection of changes in vegetation and pollutants as well as urban environments. For example, a hyperspectral sensor can ‘see’ the spectral signature of an invasive disease threatening an entire harvest, allowing farmers to take preventive steps.
The second satellite is OQ Technology’s Tiger-2. Built by NanoAvionics it’s also the second mission for NanoAvionics with the company. The 6U satellite will grow the OQ Technology’s constellation, forming the first global 5G IoT network that combines both satellite and terrestrial wireless networks, using regular 5G chips in mobile devices.
“With more satellite to follow, this mission is essential for OQ Technology to engage with customers and access the market to deliver full 5G service,” said Omar Qaise, CEO OQ Technology. “There will be 24 billion devices around the world to be connected and we are well positioned for that market. In addition to Tiger-2, we are working with NanoAvionics on multiple other missions.”
OQ Technology’s constellation intends to provide basic commercial IoT and M2M services, using 5G connectivity, to customers with a focus on Africa, Middle East, Asia, and Latin America. It will expand the 4G and 5G IoT footprint globally, which plays a critical role in enabling mobility in vertical markets such as smart cars, drones, transport, logistics, and maritime. It is also very valuable for low latency applications (which are critical for 5G) as the satellites are in low earth orbit and provide few milliseconds latency communication which traditional GEO satellites operators cannot do. Following the launch of Tiger-2, OQ Technology aims to quickly add another two missions to its constellation, followed by a batch of six satellites.
NanoAvionics is a smallsat bus manufacturer and mission integrator currently based in five locations across the USA, UK, and Lithuania. The company’s efforts are focused on enabling critical satellite functions and optimizing their hardware, launch and satellite operation costs by providing end-to-end small satellite solutions – ranging from single missions to constellations. Its core engineering team has implemented over 85 successful satellite missions and commercial projects during the past several years. With modularity as the fundamental principle of NanoAvionics systems’ architecture, NanoAvionics provides economic viability to a wide range of small satellite constellation-based missions, businesses and organizations worldwide.