- European NewSpace companies partner to bring AI-based space traffic management solutions to orbit
- Mission launch to test collision avoidance system, increasing spacecraft safety and reducing space debris, planned for 2023
Madrid, Spain, 9 January 2023 – Three European NewSpace companies, Neuraspace, Ienai Space, and EnduroSat have partnered for Europe’s first orbital demonstration of a collision avoidance system based on artificial intelligence (AI). Their aim is to make space-traffic-management a reality. They also want to set a baseline and show the way for the adoption of end-to-end space traffic management solutions.
Neuraspace is a Portuguese space traffic management company, Ienai Space a Spanish in-space mobility company, and EnduroSat is a Bulgarian satellite manufacturer, operator, and turnkey provider of space-as-a-service (SPaaS).
The mission will serve as a precursor for an end-to-end space traffic management (STM) solution for increased spacecraft safety. The STM will provide spacecraft operators with better space traffic data, collision detection algorithms and more efficient propulsion systems.
Ienai and Neuraspace also signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate on tackling the growing issue of space debris through joint traffic management products. Both companies are looking to reduce the risk of collisions in space by lowering decision times for customers. They will provide operators with more effective decision-making and execution options for collision avoidance manoeuvres for their spacecrafts.
In collaboration with EnduroSat, the companies plan to demonstrate their joint collision avoidance capabilities with a mission in 2023.
The satellite, built by EnduroSat, will be launched aboard an Isar Aerospace rocket (ISAR 2). Once in orbit, it will be manoeuvred by Ienai’s ‘Athena’ thrusters. The thrusters will respond to both simulated and real collision warnings and manoeuvring suggestions. The warnings and suggestions will be generated by Neuraspace’s AI/ML (machine learning) driven STM solution.
With this mission, EnduroSat also plans to further expand its sustainability capabilities. EnduroSat, and Neuraspace are both early adopters of the Space Sustainability Rating which encourages, recognises, and rewards, space actors who enforce sustainable space missions with a unique rating system.
Daniel Pérez, CEO of Ienai Space, said: “This partnership signals the growing maturity of space companies towards a sustainable use of low Earth orbits. It also recognises an industry need to deliver end-to-end space traffic management solutions to avoid further increase of space debris. It seeks to set an example by and for the industry, and particularly by the European space industry, to demonstrate that space traffic management can and should be a regular feature of commercial space.
“Like IENAI, both EnduroSat and Neuraspace also recognise their responsibility for protecting their own and other operator’s assets and the common space infrastructure. That makes them ideal partners for us. More data, better algorithms and advanced propulsion solutions will contribute to a safer space environment, which is precisely what we are aiming for with our combined service offer.”
Chiara Manfletti, director at Neuraspace, said: “Space safety and sustainability require urgent and joint action. Improved space traffic management systems are paramount to achieve this. Neuraspace has set out to be a European-born global star in space traffic management. We are happy to have IENAI and EnduroSat as partners to improve in-orbit mobility rather sooner than later.”
Raycho Raychev, founder & CEO of EnduroSat, said: “The EnduroSat team has been working on a vision for a sustainable space program for the past five years. Our latest service offer, sharing capacity among customers on every satellite and reducing the need for multiple single missions, is another step in this direction.
“This new initiative will make space operations safer, and we are proud to be part of it. Our team will support sufficiently advanced programmes for sustainable space, and we hope we can improve the current status of mission operations.”
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About the companies
Neuraspace is developing an advanced system for monitoring and preventing collisions in space. Neuraspace has raised 2.5 million euro from Armilar Venture Partners and a further 25 million euro for sensor infrastructure and its growth strategy with the support of the Recovery and Resilience Plan and NextGeneration EU Funds. The Neuraspace platform solves the issue of space traffic at large through an end-to-end automated solution built on three key pillars: data fusion, artificial intelligence and machine learning; and (3) manoeuvring automation.
IENAI SPACE provides end-to-end in-space mobility solutions and space mobility software, reaching clients from preliminary design to operations. The company is building ATHENA, a breakthrough propulsion system, based on Electrospray technology, to upend the in-space mobility market through unmatched scalability and efficiency. In addition, IENAI offers GO, a free-to-use web-based thruster design tool and 360, a high-fidelity multidisciplinary space mobility analysis tool.
EnduroSat provides unique space data service, based on its software-defined NanoSats, to business, exploration, and science teams. Its focus is on the development of next-generation commercial space services and exploration programs. EnduroSat is one of the fastest-growing space companies in Europe. Proud member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) and Endeavor Network, EnduroSat’s team exceeds 115+ talented developers, engineers, and scientists, currently serving more than 200+ clients worldwide. Customers for the Space Data Service include 1) commercial space companies focused on IoT, remote sensing, meteorology, and Earth observation, and 2) research organisations: space agencies, universities, and institutes.
SpaceX Transporter-6 successfully launched Europe‘s first solar sail mission
- The 6U nanosatellite and three others aboard the mission were built by Lithuanian smallsat mission integrator NanoAvionics
- NanoAvionics also announced the planned launch of its first 100+ kg microsatellite
Vilnius, Lithuania, 6 January 2023 – Kongsberg NanoAvionics (NanoAvionics) has announced the successful launch of Europe‘s first solar sail mission aboard SpaceX Transporter-6. The 6U nanosatellite nicknamed 'Alpha' was manufactured for France's Gama. It is one of four satellites, built by the Lithuanian smallsat mission integrator for multiple customers, that got sent into low Earth Orbit.
It is the first time for NanoAvionics that one of its nanosatellite buses has carried a solar sail payload into space. A second solar sail mission, using a 12U nanosatellite bus by the company, will be NASA's composite solar sail system (ACS3).
Vytenis J. Buzas, co-founder and CEO of NanoAvionics, said: "Solar sails are one of the future propulsion methods for small satellites exploring deep space. Being the first European company to integrate solar sails into satellite buses and test them while in orbit puts us in a unique position within the space industry."
Also on board were two other 6U nanosatellites ('Birkeland' and 'Huygens') built by NanoAvionics for a consortium of Norwegian and Dutch research centres. The MilSpace2 mission is the first known two-satellite system to detect, classify, and accurately geolocate radio frequency signals. The two satellites will fly in formation at a close proximity of 20 kilometres.
The MilSpace2 mission is not the only application that can benefit from NanoAvionics bus capabilities to fly in swarms and operate as a single entity. This is an important feature for swarm missions ranging from remote sensing, to orbital reconnaissance for debris mitigation and other space infrastructure needs.
The fourth satellite carries an Earth observation payload for an undisclosed customer.
Confirming successful communications with all four satellites, NanoAvionics's mission control centre continues executing the early operations phase (LEOP) to configure and validate the satellites for their primary mission objectives.
"With this first successful launch in 2023, NanoAvionics is off to a great start. We plan to deliver and launch more than 20 satellites to customers this year, up from 15 in 2022. This plan includes our first 100+ kg satellite based on our MP42 microsatellite bus," Buzas said. “And for the third consecutive year, we nearly doubled both our revenue and our team size.”
Mission details for all Transporter-6 satellites built by NanoAvionics:
- A 6U nanosatellite dubbed "Alpha" for French space startup Gama to demonstrate their commercial solar sail with a diameter of 73.3 square meters (789 square feet) – roughly the size of a racquetball court. Gama’s range of solar sails are aimed at commercial companies and research organisations alike, looking for a cost-effective and less complex setup and propulsion system to explore deep space through small satellites. Using nano- or microsatellites propelled through space by solar sails would allow them to travel greater distances without storing large amount of fuel.
- Two 6U satellites named "Birkeland" and "Huygens". Flying in close formation, the two satellites are part of the “Strategic Mutual Assistance in Research and Technology” (SMART) Military Use of Space (MilSpace) Science & Technology cooperation is a bilateral agreement between the MoD of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and the MoD of the Kingdom of Norway. The project team, acting on behalf of the MoDs, consists of FFI from Norway and NLR and TNO from The Netherlands. It is the first known two-satellite system to detect, classify, and accurately geolocate Radio Frequency signals, including navigation radars used on ships, by combining the measurement angle of arrival (AoA) and time difference of arrival (TDOA). Simultaneous detection of pulsed radio signals by both satellites flying in tandem enables accurate geolocation during all weather conditions. The “Strategic Mutual Assistance in Research and Technology” (SMART) Military Use of Space (MilSpace) Science & Technology cooperation is a bilateral agreement between the MoD of the Kingdom of The Netherlands and the MoD of the Kingdom of Norway. The project team, acting on behalf of the MoDs, consists of FFI from Norway and NLR and TNO from The Netherlands.
- The fourth satellite carries an Earth observation payload for an undisclosed customer.
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Images are available at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1GcKefGwF6Ttg3LYdmqXkmqHFUL37SkWo?usp=share_link
About Kongsberg NanoAvionics (NanoAvionics)
Kongsberg NanoAvionics is a smallsat bus manufacturer and mission integrator currently based in four 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 120 successful satellite missions and commercial projects during the past several years. With modularity as the fundamental principle of NanoAvionics system architecture, the company provides economic viability to a wide range of small satellite constellation-based missions, businesses and organisations worldwide.
http://www.nanoavionics.com | Twitter: https://twitter.com/NanoAvionics