Blue Canyon Technologies Supports Multiple Missions on Spaceflight Industries’ SSO-A Launch

The Spaceflight SSO-A SmallSat Express mission successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on Monday, December 3rd — the smallsats hitched a ride on the SpaceX Falcon 9 launch vehicle and are now in SSO — to date, this is the largest, single, rideshare mission from a U.S.-based launch vehicle.

Of the 64 spacecraft that launched into low Earth orbit (LEO), Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) either fully manufactured the spacecraft bus or provided components for 11 of the smallsats, which support a variety of NASA, Department of Defense (DoD) and commercial applications.

Working with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) team at the University of Colorado at Boulder, BCT manufactured a 6U cubesat for the Compact Spectral Irradiance Monitor Flight Demonstration (CSIM) mission. BCT’s 6U spacecraft bus is a state-of-the-art, high-performance cubesat platform that maximizes available payload volume. The spacecraft includes ultra-high-performance pointing accuracy, robust power system, command and data handling, RF communications, optional propulsion, and multiple flexible payload interfaces. The BCT XB Spacecraft family provides a complete solution for payload needs ranging from a 3U cubesat to ESPA-class. 

FLEXCORE provides a low-cost and high-performance, modular ADCS system that is scalable to a wide range of bus sizes and mission requirements.

Artistic rendition of the SSO-A mission. Image is courtesy of Spaceflight Industries.

BCT provided high-performance components for several of the smallsats, as well. The U.S. Air Force-led STPSat-5 mission and another commercial customer used BCT’s FleXcore ADCS system — a highly capable and low-cost attitude control system for smallsats. BCT’s standard XACT Attitude Control System was provided for a 3U cubesat called MinXSS-2, a mission developed at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The XACT provided control for other commercial and government customers in addition to MinXSS.  BCT’s advanced Nano Star Tracker (NST) was integrated with other hardware on the U.S. Air Force’s FalconSat-6 satellite.

SKY Perfect JSAT and KSAT Selected by Axelspace for the First Japanese EO Smallsat Ground Station Services

SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation (SKY Perfect JSAT) and Kongsberg Satellite Services AS (KSAT) have announced that Axelspace Corporation (Axelspace) has selected the SKY Perfect JSAT and KSAT joint Ground Station Service for their GRUS satellite for the AxelGlobe project.

Aerial photo of the KSAT Svalbard Ground Station located at 78 degrees North, the world’s largest commercial ground station that provides all orbit support.

SKY Perfect JSAT’s owned and operated ground station at the Ibaraki Network Control Center will be used and will support every orbit from the KSAT ground station at Svalbard. This is the first joint ground service contract award for the partners, cooperating under a Strategic Alliance Agreement for LEO ground station service that was concluded in 20162.

The Axelspace GRUS smallsat.

SKY Perfect JSAT and KSAT will support this satellite program with KSATLite, a global ground network as a service, optimized for smallsats as well as large constellations. A high degree of standardization, supporting all of the major standards in satellite and launch vehicle space to ground communications, makes the service easily scalable and cost effective. The KSATLite global network is fully operational and, by leveraging this award, SKY Perfect JSAT and KSAT will expand their business for the emerging LEO market.

GRUS is a next-generation, remote sensing smallsat and is the building block of Axelspace’s EO LEO constellation. Even with a mass of less than 100 kg., the satellite will enable imagery captures with 2.5 meter ground resolution. The first GRUS-1 satellite will be launched in December followed by many more during the coming years, making high-frequency monitoring a reality for the entire Earth.

Artistic rendition of the Axelspace LEO constellation.

When the full constellation is in place, Axelspace will be able to update the imagery of the Earth every day, making the satellite data easily accessible through the AxelGlobe platform.

Photo from left to right: Mr. Shinji Takada of JSAT, Mr. Yuya Nakaura of Axelspace, Mr. Rolf Skatteboe of KSAT.

Axelspace will start commercial service for the imagery as well as analysis data in 2019. More than 7,000 smallsats are expected to be launched into orbit by 20273 globally, fueled by technological development, new innovative solutions and launch services emerging, and the ground business market will be expanded accordingly. SKY Perfect JSAT and KSAT have strong interest in growing and supporting the NewSpace community and expanding their presence in the LEO domain.

1Axelspace press release “Axelspace Completed Series-B Round of Financing” December 7, 2018,

2SKY Perfect JSAT press release “SKY Perfect JSAT has entered into a Strategic Alliance with Kongsberg Satellite Services, world-leading ground station services provider for LEO Satellite Operators to accelerate LEO-related businesses and enter into maritime information service” December 7, 2016,


Blue Canyon Technnologies’ Bus Supports the Recently Launched Harris HSAT Smallsat

HSAT, a 6U cubesat using a bus manufactured by Blue Canyon Technologies for the Harris Corporation, successfully launched from India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) and has begun initial operations.

The briefcase-sized spacecraft will test and characterize the performance of a payload in a circular SSO LEO.

Harris Corporation’s HSAT 6U Spacecraft. Bus manufactured by Blue Canyon Technologies.

Blue Canyon Technologies is proud to support the Harris Corporation as a partner on the HSAT mission.  BCT’s 6U spacecraft bus is a state-of-the-art, high-performance smallsat platform that maximizes available payload volume.

The spacecraft includes ultra-high-performance pointing accuracy, robust power system, command and data handling, RF communications, optional propulsion, and multiple flexible payload interfaces.  The BCT XB Spacecraft family provides a complete solution for payload needs ranging from a 3U cubesat to ESPA-class.

Royal Australian Air Force’s Mission 1 Smallsat Effort Heads to Orbit

If all goes to plan, Mission 1 (M1), the first of two Royal Australian Air Force-funded small satellite efforts, will soon be placed into space by a U.S. launch vehicle, according to a news story at The Australian infosite written by Nigel Pittaway.

The M1 and later M2 missions are being funded by the air force and conducted in partnership with the University of NSW Canberra, with the aims of developing a cadre of expertise in satellite capabilities and demonstrating innovative space technologies and rapid small-satellite development.

The main goal from an air force perspective is the development of human capability, so M1 and M2 won’t be conducting operational missions for Defence, but they will develop skills for satellite operations from the ground up,” said Wing Commander Steve Henry, Deputy Director, Surveillance of Space, at air force headquarters. The Australian space industry is not new in itself but building satellites from start to finish is a new capability and having our people learn about those things is important to us.

The M1/M2 missions follow on from the successful launch in November 2017 of the Buccaneer smallsat, developed by the Defence Science and Technology Group (DST) in partnership with UNSW Canberra. The M1 spacecraft will perform technology demonstration and research roles in the areas of space situational awareness (SSA), communications and surveillance in the next few years. The mission will utilise commercial off-the- shelf equipment including some GPS tracking capabilities, together with a software-defined radio and flight computer developed by UNSW Canberra.

To read the entire article, please access this direct The Australian infolink


NanoRacks Delivers Smallsats, Research and Medical Science to the ISS

This weekend, Dragon, the spacecraft from the 16th SpaceX contracted resupply mission, berthed with the International Space Station carrying educational experiments, cubesats, and industry science research from NanoRacks’ customers into orbit — within this mission, the NanoRacks team delivered payloads for four of the company’s commercial platforms on the Space Station.

NanoRacks delivered five CubeSats to be deployed from the company’s commercially developed CubeSat Deployer on the Space Station. These smallsats are:

-Delphini-1, Aarhus University
-UNITE, University of Southern Indiana
-TechEdSat-8, NASA Ames, San Jose State University
-CATs (two identical CubeSats), Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab

UNITE and TechEdSat-8 were selected for flight by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) and were the two smallsats launched for the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites-21 (ELaNa-21) mission complement, sponsored by the NASA Launch Services Program (LSP). 

Additionally, Tympanogen Inc., a startup company thjat develops innovative ear, nose, and throat devices based on proprietary gel technology, launched their first experiment to the Space Station, leveraging NanoRacks Reactor Microplates in the microgravity environment. Tympanogen seeks to improve the process of antibiotic gel release from a novel patch created to treat wounds and reduce the occurrence a severity of sepsis — or systemic inflammation.

Staying Healthy in Space” was brought to the Space Station as one of two student payloads selected for flight as a part of the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Space Station Challenge” in partnership with Marvel Entertainment. NanoRacks designed and built the experiment in partnership with DreamUp and Ms. Bulawa. DreamUp will also be producing its second educational science kit (“DreamKits”) based on the results found in the BASF Plants in Space experiment. This DreamKit will allow learners on the ground who purchase a kit to replicate and compare results to the experiment currently being conducted on the Space Station.

Lastly, NanoRacks facilitated the launch of a virtual reality camera for Felix & Paul Studios, an award-winning creative studio, to capture footage for a groundbreaking cinematic virtual reality series documenting life onboard the space station in partnership with TIME.

Since Dragon arrived on Saturday, December 8, the NanoRacks Operations Team has been working around the clock to run customer payloads with the astronaut crew on board. Astronaut David Saint-Jacques installed Plants in Space and Staying Healthy in Space onto the NanoRacks Frame-1. Astronaut Anne McClain performed the NanoRacks MixStix operations for the student experiment from Space Center Houston, and just an hour later, performed the first day’s activation of the Tympaongen experiment, running NanoRacks Plate Reader-2 scans of the experiment’s Reactor Microplates.

Earth-i’s Satellites Help Severn Trent to Fix Water Leaks

As part of the company’s ongoing strategy to use new technologies to help identify and fix water leaks, Severn Trent has recently completed a successful trial with Earth-i, a New Space firm that specializes in data analytics and accompanying insights.

During the UK’s hot summer, Earth-i conducted analysis on imagery captured by British built satellites orbiting at 650 km. above the Earth. Images were taken of land across Severn Trent’s supply area, which stretches from the Bristol Channel to the Humber all the way to mid-Wales and the East Midlands, an area of approximately 20,000 km2.

Earth-i processed and analyzed the 80 cm., very high resolution imagery using a technique known as Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) analysis, cross-referencing against the location of the water pipelines. The first identifying factor during the dry summer was where grass and vegetation was unusually vigorous or healthy in contrast to the prevailing conditions in the area.

This is the first time that Severn Trent has commissioned the use of imagery analysis with very high-resolution optical satellites to help identify leaks in a range of circumstances, including leaks that might be hidden far underground or in more remote areas. Water companies are now using ever more innovative methods to reduce the amount of water lost through pipe leaks. Earth-i’s data analytics provides insights that help water companies achieve their leak reduction targets.

Executive Comment

Paul Majmader, Commercial Director at Earth-i, said that the company is working closely on this trial with Severn Trent, which has produced excellent results. There has been significant interest across the water industry where the company is actively engaging in numerous projects to help other companies quickly detect leaks in the pipeline network. These projects benefit the water companies as well as water consumers. This is a great demonstration of the type of everyday challenges that imagery from space can help to tackle.

UPDATED: Axelspace Garners Series B Funding

Axelspace Corporation (HQ: Tokyo, Japan; CEO : Yuya Nakamura) has completed their Series B funding round, raising approximately 2.58B JPY ($22.8 million).

Photo, Left to right: Mr. Nobuyuki Tanaka (member of the Venture Co-creation Department at Mitsui Fudosan), Mr. Akira Sugawara (General Manager of the same department), Yuya Nakamura (Axelspace CEO), Mr. Yasuhiko Yurimoto (Global Brain CEO) and Mr. Hidetaka Aoki (Partner of Global Brain).

The round sees the allocation of new shares to the lead investor 31VENTURES – Global Brain – Growth I Joint Venture (managed by Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd. and Global Brain Corporation) and to several other venture capital and corporate investors.

With this critical step, Axelspace moves closer to the realization of the new generation Earth Observation (EO) infrastructure AxelGlobe, which will observe the entire planet every day, as was announced in December of 2015. The launch of the GRUS satellite, which had been postponed in 2017, will be performed this month (December, 2018). Moreover, the structure of the organization has undergone some changes in association with the funding event.

Accepting institutions

  • 31VENTURES – Global Brain – Growth I Joint Venture (Managed by Mitsui Fudosan Co. Ltd. and Global Brain Corporation)
  • Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ)
  • Innovation Platform for The University of Tokyo (UTokyoIPC)
  • SBI Investment Co. Ltd.
  • The Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited

With the funding obtained in this round, Axelspace will develop two additional GRUS satellites for launch in 2020, which will increase the number of satellites for more frequent captures of Earth imagery. To tap into this valuable new resource, the company is preparing to begin large-scale collaboration with Mitsui Fudosan, also one of the lead investors.

SSL-Manufactured SkySats 14 and 15 Imagery Being Received by Planet

SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), has announced that Earth Observation (EO) satellites built for Planet are now receiving initial imagery.

SkySats 14 and 15 in SSL’s smallsat manufacturing facility. Photo is courtesy of the company.

SkySats 14 and 15 were launched on December 3 from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Spaceflight’s first Sun Synchronous dedicated rideshare mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9. First imagery was received on December 5. Successful operation of the two satellites demonstrates SSL’s ongoing success in small form factor satellite manufacturing.

Imagery of Beijing, China captured by SSL-built SkySat. Image is courtesy of Planet.

With this launch there are now 15 SkySats on orbit, 13 of which were built by SSL. They feature 72 cm. resolution and complement Planet’s Dove constellation.

Executive Comment

Dario Zamarian, SSL Group President, said that the firm continues to extend its leadership in Earth Observation satellite manufacturing. SSL’s proven successes in commercial innovation allow the company to continue to provide customers the experience and reliability they want, with the cost and timeline objectives they require for innovative satellite platforms.

China Launches SaudiSat-5a and -5B to Orbit

A Chinese Long March 2D rocket launches and carries two Saudi satellites to orbit.

Photo is courtesy of Almowaten.

Two Saudi satellites were launched on Friday, December 7, from China via a Long March 2D launch vehicle from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert.

Artistic illustration of
KACST’s SaudiSat-5A smallsat.

The SaudiSat-5A and SaudiSat-5B remote sensing satellites have been developed and manufactured at the King Abdulla City for Science and Technology (KACST). These are the second generation of Saudi-made Earth Observation (EO) satellites and replace the SaudiSat-2 (launched in 2004) and SaudiSat-3 (launched in 2007) remote sensing satellites, also manufactured by KACST.

More than 120 Saudi nationals who specialize in mechanics, telecommunications, digital engineering, energy, control systems, programming and fiber participated in developing and manufacturing the two, 200 kg., high-resolution EO satellites. The launch of the two new satellites is part of the Saudi Vision 2030 that aims to transfer strategic technologies, maximize local content and empower Saudi youths to grasp advanced technologies in the development and manufacture of satellites.

KACST has now launched 13 satellites and is participating in the Chinese-led Chang’e-4 Lunar exploration mission.

Story sourced from GDN Online.

ATLAS Space Operations Makes Contact with FalconSat-6 Smallsat

ATLAS Space Operations made successful contact with the first ever DoD satellite mission to use a commercial cloud-based satellite communications and control network.

The satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, as part of the SSO-A SmallSat Express mission commissioned by Spaceflight Industries using a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Included in the launch was the U.S. Air Force Academy’s FalconSat-6. Ground-to-space communications for the FalconSat-6 are fully managed by the Freedom™ Platform and Freedom™ Ground Network, ATLAS Space Operations’ proprietary software and antenna network, which combine to provide the space industry with the most cost-efficient solutions, all through the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud.

The FalconSat-6 will serve the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Department of Astronautics, as a key component of the Academy’s capstone course for systems engineering. The spacecraft’s mission is to provide hands-on experiential learning for spacecraft engineering and operations, as well as maturing Cadets’ understanding of applications of solar, propulsion, and communication technologies. Entirely designed, built, and tested by Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, the FalconSat-6–capable of meeting the real-world requirements for Department of Defense (DoD) missions and payloads.

The ATLAS Space Operations
FREEDOM™ Platform.

Operational since 2015, the Freedom™ Ground Network is a series of ground-stations, strategically placed around the globe, that provide ground-to-space connectivity through S-Band, X-Band, and UHF communications. The Freedom™ Ground Network is connected seamlessly through the cloud, via the Freedom™ Platform, which exploits the AWS Cloud to provide scalable solutions with capabilities that meet or exceed DoD’s standards for military-grade security. The Freedom™ Platform — ATLAS’ proprietary technology — is an advanced satellite interface software for a truly “set and forget” user interface with TT&C (Telemetry, Tracking, and Command) and scheduling.

ATLAS is actively and rapidly expanding its Freedom™ Ground Network and is currently developing new ground-stations in Tahiti, Finland, Guam, and in Hokkaido, Japan. By the end of 2020, ATLAS will employ more than 30, cloud integrated, locations to service the growing demand for ground-to-space communications of spacecraft from LEO to GEO, launch support operations, and deep space missions.

Helios Wire smallsats.

Another spacecraft aboard the SSO-A SmallSat express to employ the Freedom™ Platform and the Freedom™ Ground Network is Helios Wire’s SIRION-2, the first of a 28 satellite constellation that will be launched in separate missions over the next five years. SIRION-2 will provide Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connectivity for a worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) whose applications include monitoring and controlling of fixed and mobile assets in industries like transportation, consumer, logistics, security/public safety, energy, mining, industrial/construction, agriculture, and animal management.

With both the U.S. Air Force Academy’s FalconSat-6 and Helios Wire’s SIRION-2 aboard the Spaceflight SSO-A SmallSat Express, yesterday’s SpaceX Falcon 9 launch is the first to include multiple clients for ATLAS Space Operations.