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  • Satellite Evolution

D-Orbit launches new ION Satellite Carrier mission

D-Orbit, the leading company in space logistics and orbital transportation, has announced the launch of the latest mission of its orbital transportation vehicle (OTV), ION Satellite Carrier, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. SpaceX’s Transporter-3 mission launched today at 15:25 UTC (10:25 a.m. EST) from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Florida. On the same day, 1hour 24minutes 30seconds after liftoff, the ION vehicle was successfully deployed into a 500km Sun synchronous orbit (SSO).

ION Satellite Carrier is an OTV designed, manufactured, and operated by D-Orbit to transport satellites into orbit and release them individually into distinct and precise orbital slots in the shortest time possible. ION can also host multiple third-party payloads such as innovative technologies, experiments from research entities, and instruments requiring testing in orbit.

During this mission, dubbed “DASHING THROUGH THE STARS”, ION will deploy customer spacecraft, perform the in-orbit demonstration of third-party payloads, and validate several innovative features that will be available to customers on future missions.

After completion of the usual Launch and Early Orbit phase (LEOP) operations, ION will begin its primary mission, deploying the satellites. This mission’s manifest again includes clients from around the world, like Lockheed Martin, with a satellite developed in collaboration with the University of Southern California Space Engineering Research Center for the testing of complex vision processing algorithms, SatRevolution, with a group of satellites for Earth Observation and scientific purposes, and the Czech Aerospace Research Centre (VZLU) in cooperation with Spacemanic, with a satellite testing technologies for future missions of the Czech satellite constellation.

Once the deployment phase is completed, ION will begin the on-orbit testing of third-party payloads, including the second phase of testing of D-Orbit’s cloud platform designed to provide distributed high-performance data analytics computing and storage capabilities in space. For this mission, D-Orbit is working in collaboration with Unibap and the European Space Agency (ESA) who are supporting the in-orbit test of a hyperspectral electro-optical instrument developed by research institution VTT. This platform allows third parties to upload and execute cloud applications and AI workloads to process images as soon as they are created, allowing results to be sent to users in record time. The first test campaign, which took place during ION’s previous mission, successfully executed 23 separate SpaceCloud compatible applications from a variety of partners.

This on-orbit testing phase of the mission will also include the validation of ARCA by CYSEC SA, a hardened operating system with a built-in cryptographic service and key management system to provide end-to-end cyber security protection for satellite communications.

“The beginning of a new mission is always exciting, regardless of how many times you have been through it,” commented Luca Rossettini, CEO of D-Orbit. “Now, some of the activities feel almost routine but we like to set ourselves new challenges, achieve new milestones, and offer to our customers new advanced services on top of the well-proven ones. I’m proud that our services are helping the ecosystem to grow faster: cooperation is the new keyword for space, and this mission is a demonstration that cooperation moves the growth way beyond competition.”

The mission, including operations on payloads, will be managed by D-Orbit’s mission controllers through Aurora, the company’s proprietary cloud-based mission control software suite that enables satellite operators to manage and control multiple payloads simultaneously, from any location in the world, without having to invest in their own saving all the expenses connected with software design, development, testing, deployment, and maintenance.

D-Orbit launched its first ION in September 2020 aboard an Arianespace VEGA launcher, followed by two further missions flown in January 2021 and June 2021 aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-1 and Transporter-2 missions respectively. With this mission, the Company will have launched to space collectively more than 70 payloads.

While getting ready to perform this mission, the D-Orbit team is already working on future missions, with the next planned for April 2022.


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