Wednesday 3rd March 2021

Nanosatellite for USA’s Aurora Insight to fly on SpaceX’s Transporter 1 mission mapping radio frequency spectrum

Published on January 19th, 2021

NanoAvionics, a nanosatellite bus manufacturer and mission integrator, has announced that the first of two nanosatellites, built and integrated for US radio frequency spectrum and wireless data provider Aurora Insight, will be part of SpaceX’s ‘Transporter 1’ rideshare launch onboard a Falcon 9.

The nanosatellite, nicknamed “Charlie”, forms one half of the two-satellite mission contract awarded to NanoAvionics by Aurora Insight, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, with both to become part of their data gathering infrastructure.

Aurora Insight uses satellite-based sensor technology to detect spectrum usage and interference around the globe. Using its custom processing, Aurora creates accurate information on the health and availability of radio frequency spectrum and wireless infrastructure, measuring 5G, LTE, IoT, 3G/2G, Wi-Fi and TV signals. This information enables mobile network operators, mobile service operators, tower companies, and RF spectrum users to innovate and invest in wireless networks, resulting in stronger connections for communities and smarter industries.

NanoAvionics’ contract with Aurora includes building and integrating the two nanosatellites, “Bravo” and “Charlie” as well as providing launch and operation services. Both 6U nanosatellites are based on NanoAvionics’ standard M6P bus in a higher performance configuration, providing greater technical performance capabilities for Aurora’s radio frequency spectrum mission. The launch of the second satellite will take place during the first quarter of 2021.

‘Transporter 1’ is the fully dedicated rideshare launch for nanosats and microsats as part of SpaceX’s SmallSat Rideshare Program in 2021. It is also one of the largest and diverse rideshare missions with a great number of small satellites flying to orbit, including 30 small satellites from the U.S. and Europe being integrated by German space company Exolaunch.

Vytenis J. Buzas

Vytenis J. Buzas, CEO of NanoAvionics says, “2020 has been a fantastic year for NanoAvionics and it’s great to start this new year with another great mission and launch. 90% of our contracts are for full missions that include satellite bus manufacturing, payload integration, launch and operation, and other services. All our past and current missions have helped us to gain the necessary experience in delivering to our customers what their businesses and the entire space industry are ultimately focused on downstream data provision. I’m looking forward to more exciting missions and launches this year.”

Besides the satellites, with the first demo-satellite launched in 2018, Aurora’s infrastructure includes sensors on vehicles, aircrafts, buildings and other objects. The sensors detect, measure and observe interferences of radio waves, providing a comprehensive overview of the wireless spectrum around the world.

Jennifer Alvarez, CEO of Aurora Insight comments, “This satellite will give us access to a whole new set of data on the radio frequency spectrum and further our understanding of global wireless infrastructure, enabling organisations to invest, grow, and move forward. NanoAvionics has been an incredibly skillful and cost-effective partner in building the two nanosatellites, integrating the payload and providing launch and operation services.”

Both of NanoAvionics’ 6U nanosatellites are based on its flight-proven M6P bus and include a higher performance configuration to provide more power through deployable panels and the most precise method for pointing and navigation in nanosats by an added star tracker subsystem.

Jennifer Alvarez

“Making custom modifications like this for our customers is an easy and thus cost-effective procedure due to the modular design of all our nanosatellite buses, sub-systems, hard- and software as well as mission services and operations,” says Alvarez.

To integrate the 30 small satellites, including NanoAvionics’, for the “Transporter 1” mission, Exolaunch used its flexible multi-satellite adapter EXOport, and its separation systems EXOpod and CarboNIX.

Jeanne Medvedeva, vice president of launch services at Exolaunch comments, “This is our second integration mission with NanoAvionics, combining their flight-proven and reliable nanosatellite buses with our expertise for rideshare missions and orbital deployment. Working on launch preparations alongside NanoAvionics has been a very smooth operation for us because we both have a substantial flight heritage and share the same notion of placing the customer at the centre of every launch service experience.”

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