Smallsat manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has been selected by NASA’s Ames Research Center to support a technology demo mission called Starling under NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.
Under the contract agreement, BCT will design, manufacture and provide engineering support during commissioning for four, flight qualified, 6U cubesats.
The goal of the Starling mission will be to prove the capability of affordable, distributed spacecraft missions, or large aggregations called “swarms,” in LEO. Starling is expected to launch in mid-2021. (The starling bird is famous for flying in swarm formations.)
As smallsats increase in accuracy and capabilities, flight-qualifying swarm technology benefits the industry by offering access to low cost, highly capable platforms that can operate from the near-Earth to the deep space environments.
BCT is currently building more than 60 spacecraft for government, commercial and academic missions. The company has doubled in size over the past 12 months and plans to open their new, 80,000 thousand square foot headquarters and production facility in 2020.
Nick Monahan, Systems engineer at BCT, said that ultimately, swarm technology will enable a new way to explore the vastness of space, as well as the complexity of the solar system.