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  • Satellite Evolution

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) nears completion of GHGSat greenhouse gas monitoring constellation

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) is finishing assembly and integration of the GHGSat-C6, C7, and C8 satellites and will soon commence laboratory testing at its Toronto facility. The three greenhouse gas monitoring high-resolution satellites developed by SFL are dedicated space assets owned by GHGSat and are on track for their scheduled delivery to the launch pad in early 2023.

“GHGSat has gained the well-deserved reputation as the world leader in high-resolution remote sensing of greenhouse gas emissions,” said SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee. “SFL is pleased to have played a key role in developing GHGSat’s core satellite assets.”

In August 2022, GHGSat lauded SFL for its part in the timely on-orbit commissioning of GHGSat-C3, C4, and C5, which were launched in May.

Stephane Germain, GHGSat CEO, said: “Going from launch to the production of emission-related climate impact data in just a matter of days is a remarkable achievement. Our partners at Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) were instrumental in this success. In the months leading up to the launch, they demonstrated responsiveness and efficiency in adapting to shifting schedules. The SFL team commissioned the spacecraft quickly without anomalies.”

GHGSat first chose SFL in 2013 to develop the GHGSat-D (Claire) demonstration satellite, proving that sufficient on-orbit stability and sensor pointing could be achieved by a satellite platform small enough to meet the cost considerations of a commercial business model. SFL was specifically chosen for the mission due to the attitude control technology it had developed for precise pointing of sensors aboard low-inertia platforms in orbit – a crucial capability for the GHGSat high-resolution satellites to detect and measure greenhouse gas emissions from sources on the Earth’s surface.

Launched in 2016, Claire was a breakthrough small satellite mission that exceeded its objectives. GHGSat then contracted SFL to build GHGSat-C1 and C2 commercial satellites, currently in orbit, launched in 2020 and 2021, respectively. GHSats-C3, C4 and C5 followed in June 2022 and are expected to be joined in orbit by GHGSat-C6, C7 and C8 in 2023. The eight commercial satellites were developed for and are assets owned by GHGSat in its commercial service.

All eight commercial GHGSat satellites (C1-C8) have been, or are being, developed using the SFL 15-kilogram Next-generation Earth Monitoring and Observation (NEMO) microsatellite platform.

“Developing GHGSat’s dedicated satellite constellation and delivering it to space is a great honor” said SFL’s Zee. “We are very pleased that we’ve been able to make a foundational contribution to GHGSat’s worldwide success.”

SFL is exhibiting in booth J4 this week at the 73rd International Astronautical Congress (#IAC2022) in Paris.

SFL is a unique microspace provider that offers a complete suite of nano-, micro- and small satellites – including high-performance, low-cost CubeSats – that satisfy the needs of a broad range of mission types from 3 to 500 kilograms. Dating from 1998, SFL’s heritage includes 61 operational successes and 29 currently under construction or awaiting launch. These missions relate to Earth observation, atmospheric monitoring, ship tracking, communication, radio frequency (RF) geolocation, technology demonstration, space astronomy, solar physics, space plasma, and other scientific research.

In its 24-year history, SFL has developed CubeSats, nanosatellites, and microsatellites that have achieved more than 207 cumulative years of operation in orbit. These microspace missions have included SFL’s trusted attitude control and, in some cases, formation-flying capabilities. Other core SFL-developed components include modular (scalable) power systems, onboard radios, flight computers, and control software.


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