- Satellite Evolution
Turion Space and NanoAvionics to build a satellite for orbital reconnaissance mission
US company Turion Space, aiming to build spacecraft to remove orbital-debris, satellite servicing, and domain awareness, has selected NanoAvionics small satellite bus, the MP42, as the basis for its ‘Droid-1’ spacecraft designed for a reconnaissance mission in low Earth orbit (LEO). The launch of the Droid-1 satellite is planned for the first quarter of 2023.
Using its onboard sensors, Turion Space’s satellite will be able to take extremely accurate measurements of spacecraft and objects in orbit. The data will give operators and users the exact location of their satellites and in relation to others, especially at crucial times when two spacecraft are critically close.
Future generations of Droid spacecraft are also aimed at removing orbital debris in LEO and tackling the complex logistics of in-orbit satellite servicing, providing orbit-modification and inspection.
Ryan Westerdahl, CEO and co-founder of Turion Space, and a former SpaceX employee, said: “The exponential growth of spacecraft and launch vehicles entering Earth’s orbits has dramatically increased the risk of collisions. Even a small number of these conjunctions can endanger a sustainable space environment. We are developing the technology to stabilize this threat. Domain awareness followed by removing space debris and satellite servicing is one of the fundamental priorities for the entire industry.”
F. Brent Abbott, CEO NanoAvionics US, said: “NanoAvionics is becoming the go-to partner for NewSpace companies in the US, because of our cost-efficient technology, and our expertise as a smallsat integrator and mission expert. We collaborate with and advise our customers right from the very early phases of their development.
“The removal of space debris is an important issue for all space companies and Turion Space’s Droid-1 mission is a first step in their plans to solve it. At NanoAvionics, we also practice proper passive and active de-orbit strategies to do our part to keep our space resources clean and open.”
The advantage for using a satellite, such as Turion Space’s Droid-1, over ground systems such as radars and telescopes to get domain awareness data is precise measurements. Ground systems cannot correctly differentiate between closely spaced objects. At least not accurately enough to provide precise measurements. They are also unavailable during bad weather and require geographic accessibility. The Droid spacecraft is not limited by these factors.