Satellites Space

Atmosphere-monitoring satellites to ride on Spaceflight’s new breed of the space tug

Spaceflight Inc., a Seattle-based company, claims that it has won a NASA contract to handle the launch logistics for several satellites whose primary focus is on atmospheric drag. The twin CubeSats have the Low-Latitude Ionosphere/ Thermosphere Enhancements in Density (LLITED) mission and enter into space via the SpaceX Falcon 9 orbit in 2021. This launch will become the debut launch via Spaceflight’s Sherpa-LTC transfer vehicle, commonly known as a space tug or OTV.

This year, another space tug’s spaceflight type called Sherpa-FX successfully launched over twelve spacecraft following a Falcon 9 liftoff in January. Sherpa-LTC is a step ahead of the FX since it includes an in-orbit propulsion technological system. It is a chemical-based system under the Benchmark Space Systems development team and gives Sherpa-LTC a chance to move between various orbital positions. The company’s mission plan starts with a round of satellites liftoffs into the earth’s orbit. A shift will allow the Sherpa to enter into space and deploy the lilted satellites into another orbit.

The Spaceflight Inc. government business development director, Valerie Skarupa, stated that Spaceflight’s full-service offers with the Sherpa vehicles increase chances for universities, NASA, and various organizations to deploy satellites at various orbital destinations. There is news that another OTV type, the Sherpa-LTE, will enter the market with a powerful electric propulsion system.

Each of the LLITED spacecraft measures 4 by 4 by 6 inches, excluding their solar arrays. The mission planning teams have scientists and engineers from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, The Aerospace Corp., and the University of New Hampshire. These satellites will offer a thorough investigation of equatorial temperature and wind problems regarding the neutral atmosphere, ranging between 300 to 500 kilometers. Also, it will analyze the Equatorial ionization issues in areas with electrically charged particles.

The principal investigator for these satellites from Aerospace Corp. claims that the CubeSat mission includes investigating these situations simultaneously in the Equatorial Area, a milestone in the on-orbit satellite operation. With the well-detailed analysis, experts can better understand atmospheric density change and the capacity of drag satellites encounter. Spaceflight Inc. will mark its anniversary this year after ten years since its founding and have worked on about 350 satellites in 37 missions using eight launch vehicles.

Spaceflight inc. has an ambitious target and plans on handling logistics for ten launches. And one such launch occurred recently when Rocket Lab deployed seven satellites from the New Zealand launch site. The company was responsible for integrating and managing services for the BlackSky satellite. Spaceflight Inc. will venture into various projects this year and more in the future.