C-COM Satellite Systems’ First Electronically Steerable Phased Array Antenna and a Big Speaker at SmallSat Symposium

C-COM Satellite Systems was… is… and will continue to be a busy company based upon their expertise in the world of antennas.

The company’s history reveals why they are thriving today as a result of their past forays in the realm of antennas. C-COM Satellite Systems are pioneers in the manufacturing of motorized antenna systems for the delivery of broadband internet to any location via satellite. 

The company manufactures its iNetVu® brand in Driveaway (vehicle mount), Flyaway (transportable), Manpack (backpack) and FMA (fixed motorized) format. Currently there are more than 8,000 systems deployed in over 100 countries.

That was then and this is now … where their latest endeavor finds them in partnership with the University of Waterloo creating its first Electronically Steerable Phased Array Antenna. C-COM tested its Ka-band, chip-based modules using the company’s patent-pending phase shifter technology in the summer of 2016. The proof of concept prototype is expected to come out in 2019.

Drew Klein

Coming from Ontario, Canada, to the SmallSat Symposium in California’s Silicon Valley, will be Drew Klein, the Director of International Business Development for C-COM Satellite. Klein will be a participant in a panel about Antennas Tracking and Phased Array Antennas on Wednesday, February 6th, 12:15 pm. 

Drew is responsible for the sales and marketing departments at C-COM and directs the promotion of the iNetVu®mobile antenna, the auto-deploy and fully motorized VSAT solution. 

Prior to joining C-COM in 2010, Drew worked in Los Angeles for 10 years where he was the President of a national commodity brokerage firm. The company’s key business line was sold to a Chicago based FCM.

In the year 2000, Drew graduated from the University of Waterloo’s Honours Science faculty (Biology) as the class valedictorian and as President of the local chapter of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Drew and others will be attending the SmallSat Symposium which takes place from February 4 with workshops, then on to the Conference from February 5 – 7. The event is hosted by SatNews, which since 1983 has been a provider of a satellite news, media and events. The SmallSat Symposium is created to enable you and your company to secure a larger portion of the market share and then take part in the next stages of your growth. You can register here.

The interpersonal connections at SmallSat have also been given careful consideration so that attendees are assured of having the opportunity to network with both established organizations and new space entrants.

SmallSat Symposium will focus not only on new technology, but the business environment shaping its implementation. The event brings together more than 100 diverse speakers with deep industry experience as well as the opportunity to mingle and network while enjoying exceptional complimentary meals and refreshment breaks. 


Renesas Launches New Digital Isolators for SmallSats

Renesas Electronics Corporation (TSE:6723) has introduced two, plastic packaged, radiation-tolerant, digital isolators that provide the highest isolation protection (2,500VRMS) from high voltage spikes in power supply stages and serial communications interfaces for use in LEO smallsats.

Private “New Space” companies plan to launch thousands of smallsats forming large constellations that operate in multiple LEO planes. Smallsat mega-constellations provide ubiquitous broadband Internet of Things (IoT) communications anywhere across the globe, and Earth Observation (EO) high-resolution imaging for sea, air, and land asset tracking.

The passive input ISL71610M and active input ISL71710M offer performance across key electrical specifications, including isolation voltage, data rate, common mode transient immunity, propagation delay, quiescent current, and dynamic current. Renesas’ Giant Magneto Resistive (GMR) digital isolators can be replacements for optocouplers that are susceptible to cloudy optics from total ionizing dose (TID) radiation. Both GMR isolators can out-perform transformer-based digital isolators that experience electromagnetic interference (EMI) due to radiated emissions from edge and dipole radiation. The Renesas GMR digital isolators are characterization tested at a total ionizing doze (TID) of up to 30krads(Si), and for single event effects (SEE) at a linear energy transfer (LET) of 43MeV•cm2/mg.

In isolation partitioned power supply designs, the ISL71610M and ISL71710M provide an instantaneous 2.5kVRMS of isolation and 600VRMS continuous working voltage at 85°C. In serial communications subsystems that need the transmitter and receiver electrically isolated from each other, the ISL71610M operates up to 100 Mbps and the ISL71710M up to 150 Mbps. Both offer the New Space industry’s  6x higher than competitive solutions, which make them ideal for serial communications links, such as RS-422, RS-485, and Controller Area Network (CAN). The ISL71610M and ISL71710M both have significantly lower quiescent current than the competition, and the ISL71710M has nearly 4x lower dynamic current than Class V isolators.

Key Features of ISL71610M and ISL71710M

  • Supply range of 3V to 5.5V
  • Isolation voltage of 2.5kVRMS for 1 minute, and 600VRMS continuous
  • Data rates up to 100Mbps (ISL71610M), and 150Mbps (ISL71710M)
  • Common mode transient immunity of 20kV/µs (ISL71610M), and 50kV/µs (ISL71710M)
  • Propagation delay of 8ns (ISL71610M), and 10ns (ISL71710M)
  • Quiescent current of 1.3mA (ISL71610M), and 1.8mA (ISL71710M)
  • Full military temperature range operation
    • TA = -55°C to +125°C
    • TJ = -55°C to +150°C
  • Radiation characterization at Low Dose Rate (LDR) (0.01rad(Si)/s): 30krad(Si)
  • SEE characterization: No SEB/SEL, VDD = 7V; LET = 43MeV•cm2/mg

Isolated 100V Half-Bridge Power Supply Reference Design
The ISL71610M passive input digital isolator is used in Renesas’ radiation-hardened half-bridge power stage reference design. The reference design’s ISL73040SEH4Z evaluation board demonstrates a half-bridge power stage design capable of taking 100V input from a satellite’s solar panels and generating step-down power rail voltages–28V, 12V, 5V, and 3.3V — with a power efficiency of up to 94 percent. The ISL73040SEHEV4Z User Manual describes how to build a half bridge power stage with isolation using the ISL71610M, ISL73040SEH low side GaN driver and the ISL73024SEH 200V GaN FET. The user manual provides the bill of materials (BOM), and explains how to power the isolator and achieve dead-time control, and it includes layout guidelines to minimize overshoot and ringing on the GaN FET gate.

Isolated CAN Bus Application
The ISL71710M can be used with a single-ended CAN Bus input signal to provide fault tolerant serial communications isolation between the CAN Bus controller and ISL71026M rad-tolerant CAN Bus transceiver, or the ISL72026SEH rad-hard CAN Bus transceiver. This application can be extended to RS-422 by using the ISL71710 with the HS-26C31 rad-hard RS-422 transmitter and HS-26C32 rad-hard RS-422 receiver.

Executive Comment

Philip Chesley, Philip Chesley, Vice President, Industrial Analog and Power Business Division, Renesas Electronics Corporation, Industrial Analog and Power Business Division, Renesas Electronics Corporation, said that the ISL71610M and ISL71710M use a GMR inductive structure that is inherently immune to radiation effects, and build on Renesas’ six decades of spaceflight experience. GMR makes the company’s space-grade digital isolators more desirable than optical-based designs, and Renesas’ radiation-tolerant plastic flow provides the optimal cost versus radiation performance in comparison to Class V isolators.

Nanyang Technological University Launches its Ninth Satellite

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore’s (NTU Singapore) have successfully launched and deployed its ninth satellite. 

The AOBA VELOX-IV and SPATIUM-I (which was launched last October) are nanosatellites trialling new imaging and manoeuvring technologies in space. The NTU scientists plan to use their findings to build satellites robust enough to withstand what would be Singapore’s first lunar mission.

The scientists believe that a lunar mission may be achievable within five years, using satellites weighing no more than 100kg each, which would be lighter than any other that has made the 384,400-kilometre journey.

NTU’s 8th and 9th satellites were built in collaboration with Kyushu Institute of Technology (Kyutech), one of Japan’s leading universities for satellite research and engineering. 

The AOBA VELOX-IV nanosatellite was launched from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Epsilon-4 rocket, which lifted off last Friday, 18 January, at 8:50 am Singapore time.

The 2.8kg satellite carries two new technologies that will be tested and validated in space. First is a special low-light camera that can capture and observe in less than two seconds Earth’s horizon glow, a crescent of light occurring on the horizon just before sunrise and after sunset.

Its second new technology is a quad-jet plasma thruster that helps the satellite with altitude control, such as when it enters a lunar orbit. 
The SPATIUM-I which stands for Space Precision Atomic-click Timing Utility Mission, was launched from the International Space Station (ISS) in October last year and is currently completing its first phase of experiments.

The 2.6 kg satellite is the first nanosatellite in the world to successfully demonstrate a chip scale atomic clock (CSAC) working in Low Earth Orbit. This demonstrates that the ‘Built-at-NTU’ atomic clock keeps time with a stability of 0.2 billionths in a second, on a par with satellites a thousand times bigger. 

Such precision timing devices, which are critical to make on-board electronics function in synchronicity, are usually not found on smaller satellites due to limited space, low power supply and high cost.

The SPATIUM-I is also the first in a planned series of nanosatellites built by NTU that will map out earth’s ionosphere in three-dimension (3D). This will allow NTU scientists to understand the ionospheric morphology and its perturbations that have a pronounced effect on long-distance radio communications, navigation and weather patterns.

NTU Singapore Vice President (Research) Professor Lam Khin Yong said the successful launch and deployment of AOBA VELOX-IV and the SPATIUM-I respectively are important steps forward for NTU. 

“Building on NTU Singapore’s satellite engineering expertise over the last decade, our two latest satellite launches demonstrate our leading-edge space capabilities. We have shrunk advanced cameras, thrusters and the electronics capability of larger satellites into something the size of a shoebox,” said Prof Lam.

“Satellite technologies are considered the pinnacle of engineering, given that these machines have to be extremely robust and perform reliably in space, one of the most extreme environments known to mankind. The fact that NTU’s, indeed Singapore’s, first home-made satellite, X-Sat, is still operating after almost eight years, is a testament to the quality and robustness of NTU’s engineered satellites.”

Professor Mengu Cho, Director of Kyutech’s Laboratory of Spacecraft Environment Interaction Engineering, said, “SPATIUM-I and AOBA VELOX-IV are the second and third satellites developed together by Kyutech and NTU. The launches of the two satellites show that the research collaboration between the two universities has grown to multiple aspects.”

“SPATIUM-I is the first in a series of technology demonstrations toward the ionospheric mapping and weather forecasting mission utilising the precise reference signal generated by the chip-scale atomic clock. The mission may bring us tremendous scientific as well as practical and commercial values. AOBA VELOX-IV demonstrates technologies necessary for a future lunar mission, which I really wish to carry out jointly with NTU in the near future.”
“AOBA VELOX-IV was launched as a part of JAXA’s (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Innovative Satellite Technology Demonstration Program. The satellite was chosen by JAXA because of the commercial value of technologies to be demonstrated by AOBA VELOX-IV, which are useful not only for the lunar mission but also for other Earth-orbiting CubeSat missions.”

NTU continues to be at forefront of Singapore’s satellite industry 

The AOBA VELOX-IV cube satellite was built by a team led by Mr Lim Wee Seng, Executive Director of NTU’s Satellite Research Centre, while its new altitude determination and control algorithm was developed by Prof Cho’s research team at Kyutech in Japan. It has two solar panels which unfold in space to form a solar array of 30cm x 20cm. 

Its primary mission is to capture Earth’s horizon during sunrise and sunset, which would pave the way towards eventually capturing the Lunar Horizon Glow, a phenomenon first observed by Apollo astronauts in the 1960s.

Capturing sharp images requires a superior low-light camera, altitude control algorithm and precise reaction wheels which can rotate and orient the satellite accurately at its target.

Its secondary mission is to test an improved quad-jet pulsed plasma thruster that generates ultra-hot plasma gases by burning solid Teflon fuel. It is used to precisely control the satellite’s angular momentum and rotation, which would be required when orbiting the Moon in any future lunar mission. 

SPATIUM-I is the result of innovative engineering by a joint team led by NTU Assistant Prof Holden Li from the NTU School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Prof Cho from Kyutech.

The team’s miniaturised atomic clock provides an accurate timing reference for the nanosatellite’s on-board electronics and has been successfully tested in space, opening up the possibility of synchronised working with future NTU satellites. 

This would allow a group of satellites flying in formation to perform joint missions, for example, the real-time three-dimensional mapping of the ionosphere plasma density, which is the ionized component of the Earth’s upper atmosphere consisting of free electrons that can interfere with electromagnetic waves and radio frequency, and in providing weather forecasting. 

SPATIUM-1 will also be testing out several Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technologies, which are miniaturised versions of the various mechanical systems used by larger satellites. One such application of MEMS will be in space-based Internet of Things (Space IoTs).

Currently, land-based Internet of Things (IoTs) are leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution in manufacturing, using sensor data to optimise manufacturing plants, while Smart City applications include monitoring and optimisation of urban traffic and city services.
However, land-based IoTs require infrastructure investment and have a limited range, especially where it does not make economic sense to install wireless transmission devices in smaller, remote towns and villages.

“With the latest NTU-Kyutech timing platform, we may be able to scale up the technology for Space IoTs, which would revolutionise the sensor network in infrastructure-poor regions of the world, to track valuable assets such as vehicles, ships and even livestock,” added Prof Li, principal investigator of the satellite and a scientist at the Temasek Labs @ NTU. “With close to half of the world’s population without access to the Internet, low-cost Space IoTs could be a feasible alternative for providing tracking and monitoring services.”

20 years of satellite expertise 

NTU’s first foray into space began 20 years ago. The first project was a communication payload codenamed Merlion, while the main satellite body was developed by the University of Surrey, UK. It was launched in 1999, making this year the 20th year anniversary milestone since NTU begun its space mission.

NTU has since designed, built and sent nine satellites into Earth’s orbit. The X-SAT, NTU’s microsatellite built in collaboration with the DSO National Laboratories, is Singapore’s first locally-built satellite which was launched into space in 2011.  

Since 2009, NTU has been running Singapore’s first satellite programme for undergraduates and postgraduates. For further information see Annex A.

Nanyang Technical University

Space-Qualified SSD Prototypes Shipped by Mercury Systems to Two LEO Satellite Suppliers

Mercury Systems has announced the first prototype shipments of the company’s 3U TRRUST-Stor VPX RT space-qualified secure solid-state drives (SSD) to two leading suppliers of LEO satellites.

Designed to operate reliably in high radiation environments, this device is the first commercial SSD leveraging VITA 78 SpaceVPX standards to reduce customer cost and mitigate program risk. In addition to commercial satellite applications, this device is ideally suited for high-altitude aircraft, airborne weapons and mission-critical ground computing systems.

Mercury Systems’ TRRUST-Stor VPX RT space-qualified secure solid-state drive is the first commercial SSD to leverage VITA 78 SpaceVPX standards.
Photo is courtesy of the company.

At the heart of the SSD is Mercury’s proprietary NAND controller with BuiltSECURE error correcting code (ECC) algorithms. These ECC algorithms mitigate radiation-induced byte errors, thereby enabling sustainable reliability and fault tolerance that are not available with competing storage solutions. As Mercury maintains 10 percent authority over the controller and its implementation, this device is readily customizable for non-traditional use cases when deemed critical to a customer’s program.

Honored with a Platinum award in the category of Trusted Computing in the 2018 Military & Aerospace Electronics Innovators Awards program, Mercury’s TRRUST-Stor VPX RT device provides long-term data integrity. Engineered into an open standards platform, customers can seamlessly integrate this device into the SpaceVPX ecosystem of processing boards and chassis without sacrificing affordability. As the need for radiation-tolerant devices for LEO satellites proliferates, system development around the SpaceVPX open standard architecture will be integral in supporting the growth of the space market.

Mercury’s dedication to all aspects of industrial security extends far beyond product design and into the cadence of its daily operations. The Company’s entire portfolio of advanced digital microelectronic solutions are designed and manufactured in a Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA)-accredited facility for design, packaging, test and broker services. Several of Mercury’s facilities have been recognized for excellence by receiving a Superior rating from the Defense Security Service (DSS).

Flight units are scheduled to ship in the first half of calendar year 2019.

Executive Comment

Iain Mackie, VP and GM of Mercury’s Microelectronics Secure Solutions group, said customer demand for commercial radiation-tolerant SSD devices for LEO satellites has far surpassed the company’s expectations as the firm continues to gain share in this dynamic market.

The First OneWeb Constellation’s Satellites Have Shipped to Launch Site

OneWeb Satellites, a joint venture between Airbus and OneWeb, as delivered the first satellites for the OneWeb constellation.

The satellites were manufactured at the OneWeb Satellites facility on the Airbus Defence and Space Toulouse site and the first six have been shipped to Kourou for launch.  The first launch of the mega constellation is scheduled for February 19, 2019, on a Soyuz rocket.

OneWeb Satellites will now turn its focus to ramping up production of the full constellation of satellites in its new factory in Florida, demonstrating once again the agility of this JV. OneWeb Satellites is a joint venture between OneWeb, a global communications company whose mission is to provide Internet to everybody, everywhere, and Airbus with its first order to include the production of ultra-high performance communications satellites.

Five OneWeb Satellites aligned at the Airbus facility.
Photo is courtesy of Airbus.

The Toulouse OneWeb Satellites facility is being used to validate the innovative production methods necessary to manufacture these satellites at a scale never achieved before, de-risk any potential issues, and lay the framework for the larger multi-line OneWeb Satellites factory near the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The satellites, weigh approximately 150 kg. and will operate in near-polar, 1,200 km., LEO orbit.

Executive Comment

OneWeb satellites being prepared for shipment.
Photo is courtesy of Airbus.

Tony Gingiss, the OneWeb Satellites CEO, said with this generation of satellites, the company is entering a new chapter in the story that started three years ago. The firm’s team is transforming the space industry and OneWeb Satellites is in the midst of demonstrating the company can deliver on the firm’s promises.


Canadian SmallSat Launch Services Firm Now Accepting Mission Orders

SpaceHorizon is immediately offering the firm’s launch services portfolio and is accepting orders for missions starting in late 2019.

According to the company, they have assembled a diverse portfolio of launch services to provide timely transportation into space, leveraging the growing number of commercial companies using new business models and technology to lower the cost to orbit.

Today’s smallsat mission can be anything from a single sub-kilogram PocketQube to multiple dorm fridge-size ESPA-class satellites deployed in the same orbital plane and one launcher won’t fit all needs. SpaceHorizon is working with several established and emerging launch firms to provide a balanced catalog of services for placing satellites into orbit, giving the customer options based on payload mass, orbit, budget, time to launch, and established flight record.

According to SpaceHorizon President and Founder Philip Berthiaume, “We put the small satellite owner first. Time to orbit is driving the New Space age and the company is partnering with several launch firms to provide quicker, more convenient access to space beyond the traditional rideshare model.”

He added that next-generation smallsat launchers provide commercial ventures, research organizations, and governments with correct-sized access to orbit and more independence on launch schedule and orbital delivery, noting that traditional rideshare places the small satellite owner at the mercy of the largest paying customer. “If that customer is delayed, so are the other dozen or more companies dependent upon that launch. SpaceHorizon believes small satellite owners need Lyft-style transportation options to augment the current bus ticket model.”






British In-Space Missions Plans for Carpool Satellite Launch this Year from New Zealand

The British company In-Space Missions announces a full manifest for its first Faraday mission, in Q2 this year on an Electron rocket from New Zealand. The company provides access to space at an affordable entry price by launching multiple payloads on a single satellite.

The objective of providing turnkey, in-orbit demonstration services for payload providers is accomplished as the result of the company’s team of industry veterans at In-Space Missions who provide the expertise to assemble, integrate, test, and operate the platform thereby enabling the payload providers to focus on developing their payload, business case, and downstream services.

Faraday-1 launches in Q2 this year on an Electron rocket from New Zealand and has a complement of five payloads that deliver the Faraday mission approach with plans to demonstrate, qualify and provide early service roll-out for commercial customers.

The payloads include those from Lacuna Space, the Space Environment Research Centre in Canberra, Canadensys Aerospace, and two confidential customers and will demonstrate a range of applications including IoT, on-orbit characterization of an adaptive optics corrected ground-based laser, 360-degree optical imaging, and RF spectrum monitoring.

Doug Liddle, In-Space CEO stated that Faraday-1 is a fabulous new proposition for the space sector as his company has now demonstrated that the business case for an international commercial IOD mission can be closed at a price that meets customers’ expectations and needs.  While this first Faraday satellite is a 6U cubesat, future Faradays will make use of a range of platforms to improve still further the economies of scale from multi-manifesting payloads while still meeting the time to orbit requirement.

In addition to the payloads noted above, Faraday-1 will also prototype the vision system and content processing for SpaceTime Enterprises (an In-Space joint venture providing real-time video from space) and de-risk key elements of the CubeScale product, a plug-and-play low cost scaling product that makes use of cubesat technology to deliver up to 100 kg sized satellites.

Tony Holt, CTO at In-Space added that at the core of the Faraday-1 satellite is the highly successful GOMX-4 bus from Gomspace. They integrate this bus, along with the payloads at In-Space’s facilities at BASE Bordon in the UK.  They are also making use of the expertise of Bright Ascension in building the space and ground software and they have a commercial, non-space, partner providing the user interface.

Ed Stevens, Director of Space Systems remarked that working together with payload providers from around the world, balancing their individual requirements with the platform capability, and launching a satellite in a short timescale is challenging but also exciting! It plays to the strengths and experience of the team at In-Space and they look forward to a very interesting year.

In-Space is now building the manifest for the second Faraday satellite which is planned to launch in 2020 and still has available capacity for payloads.


Rocket Lab’s Electron to Launch a Prototype Reflect Array Antenna for DARPA

Small satellite launch company Rocket Labs first mission of 2019 will be a dedicated launch of a 150kg satellite for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), highlighting the U.S. Government’s demand for a responsive, ultra-flexible and rapidly acquired launch service such as Rocket Lab’s Electron. 

The mission could help validate emerging concepts for a resilient sensor and data transport layer in low Earth orbit – a capability that does not exist today, but one which could revolutionize global communications by laying the groundwork for a space-based internet.

DARPA’s Radio Frequency Risk Reduction Deployment Demonstration (R3D2) mission is scheduled for launch in late February and intends to space-qualify a prototype reflect array antenna to improve radio communications in small spacecraft.

The antenna, made of a tissue-thin Kapton membrane, packs tightly inside the small satellite for stowage during launch, before deploying to its full size of 2.25 meters in diameter once it reaches low Earth orbit. This high compaction ratio enables larger antennas in smaller satellites, enabling satellite owners to take advantage of volume-limited launch opportunities while still providing significant capability. “

DARPA’s launch will space-qualify a new membrane reflectarray antenna, which stows tightly for launch and deploys to full size in orbit

Rocket Lab founder and CEO Peter Beck said that rapid acquisition of small satellite launch capabilities is increasingly important to U.S. Government organizations like DARPA. The ability to rapidly space-qualify new technology and deploy space-based assets with confidence on short notice is a service that didn’t exist for dedicated small satellites until now. They’re honored to provide Electron’s agile and flexible launch service to DARPA and they look forward to delivering the innovative R3D2 payload to orbit.

The mission, the first of monthly Electron launches this year, will lift-off from Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1 on the Mahia Peninsula of New Zealand. To ensure precise insertion and responsible orbital deployment, the R3D2 payload will be deployed via the Electron Kick Stage to a circular orbit. Using this unique launch method, Electron’s second stage is left in a highly elliptical orbit where the stage is subject to significant atmospheric drag, causing it to de-orbit and burn up to nothing in a reduced time frame. The Kick Stage is then used to deploy the satellite payload to a precise orbit, following which the Kick Stage can perform a de-orbit burn to speed up its re-entry, leaving no orbital debris behind in space.

The Rocket Lab Electron launch experience is the world’s first customized small satellite launch service. With the choice of two Rocket Lab launch sites, and the ability to rapidly launch to orbit as frequently as every 72 hours, each mission is tailored to the customer requirements supplying flexibility, responsiveness and control over their own orbit.


This Japanese Company’s 400 Tiny Balls Can Create Simulated Meteor Showers

Tokyo (AFP) – A rocket carrying a satellite on a mission to deliver the world’s first artificial meteor shower blasted into space on Friday, Japanese scientists said.

Lena Okajima, CEO of a space technology venture ALE is hoping to deliver shooting stars on demand and choreograph the cosmos

A start-up based in Tokyo developed the micro-satellite for the celestial show over Hiroshima early next year as the initial experiment for what it calls a “shooting stars on demand” service.

The satellite is to release tiny balls that glow brightly as they hurtle through the atmosphere, simulating a meteor shower.

It hitched a ride on the small-size Epsilon-4 rocket that was launched from the Uchinoura space centre by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) on Friday morning.

The rocket carried a total of seven ultra-small satellites that will demonstrate various “innovative” technologies, JAXA spokesman Nobuyoshi Fujimoto told AFP.

By early afternoon, JAXA confirmed all seven satellites had successfully been launched into orbit.

“I was too moved for words,” Lena Okajima, president of the company behind the artificial meteor showers, told the Jiji Press agency.

“I feel like now the hard work is ahead.”

The company ALE Co. Ltd plans to deliver its first out-of-this-world show over Hiroshima in the spring of 2020. 

The satellite launched Friday carries 400 tiny balls whose chemical formula is a closely-guarded secret.

That should be enough for 20-30 events, as one shower will involve up to 20 stars, according to the company.

ALE’s satellite, released 500 kilometres (310 miles) above the Earth, will gradually descend to 400 kilometres over the coming year as it orbits the Earth.

Worldwide meteor shower shows 

The company plans to launch a second satellite on a private-sector rocket in mid-2019.

ALE says it is targeting “the whole world” with its products and plans to build a stockpile of shooting stars in space that can be delivered across the world.

When its two satellites are in orbit, they can be used separately or in tandem, and will be programmed to eject the balls at the right location, speed and direction to put on a show for viewers on the ground.

Tinkering with the ingredients in the balls should mean that it is possible to change the colours they glow, offering the possibility of a multi-coloured flotilla of shooting stars.

Each star is expected to shine for several seconds before being completely burned up — well before they fall low enough to pose any danger to anything on Earth.

They would glow brightly enough to be seen even over the light-polluted metropolis of Tokyo, ALE says.

If all goes well, and the skies are clear, the 2020 event could be visible to millions of people, it says.

Okajima has said her company chose Hiroshima for its first display because of its good weather, landscape and cultural assets.

The western Japan city rose from the ashes after the 1945 US atomic bombing and faces the Seto Inland sea where the floating gate of Itsukushima Shrine is.

ALE is working in collaboration with scientists and engineers at Japanese universities as well as local government officials and corporate sponsors.

It has not disclosed the price for an artificial meteor shower. 

By Miwa Suzuki, Japan Today

New Office and New UK Sales Director for NanoAvionics

NanoAvionics has opened a sales and technical support office in the United Kingdom and has appointed Mr. Tariq Sami as the firm’s UK Sales Director and he will lead NanoAvionics’ efforts to serve the British space industry, where many innovative start-ups have been emerging with their technology relying on the cost-efficiency and unique capabilities provided by smallsats such as the NanoAvionics M6P.

NanoAvionic’s M6P smallsat bus.

Space tech start-ups are critical elements of the commercial space focused economic strategy, spearheaded by the UK Space Agency. By leveraging the new resources, these young companies will drive growth in the £14 billion UK space industry. A key enabler of these startups’ business models is a new generation of nanosatellites that offer unique capabilities at lower costs than traditional satellites and NanoAvionics intends to complement UK space industry with its advance solutions tailored for the market needs.

As Sales Director, Tariq Sami will apply his successful track record in the British and European aerospace industry as he introduces the British space community to NanoAvionics’ capabilities. The M6P multi-purpose satellite bus, for example, is highly versatile and incorporates a green monopropellant propulsion system for extended service life and on-orbit maneuvering.

The next NanoAvionics’ strategic step in the region is to expand UK operations and establish a center of excellence for R&D activities.

Executive Comments

Company CEO and Co-Founder Vytenis Buzas said that considering his extensive experience in the British space industry and his collaborative focus on customers’ needs, the company is pleased to welcome Tariq Sami to the NanoAvionics team. This is an exciting time to be part of the British space industry as the capabilities provided by the company’s multi-purpose smallsat buses enable innovative new business models.

Tariq Sami noted that with 8 billion devices to connect for the Internet of Things (IoT), ever-increasing advances in payload miniaturization for the telecoms market and the need for higher revisit rates in Earth Observation, there is a real opportunity for nanosat technology to be a game-changer, — NanoAvionics UK will be at the forefront of this revolution.