by Staff Writers
Paris (ESA) Nov 27, 2017
GomX-4B, ESA's latest and largest technology-testing CubeSat, will be launched from China early next year, together with the near-identical GomX-4A. The pair will test intersatellite communication links and propulsion while orbiting up to 4500 km apart.
The cereal box-sized GomX-4B has been passed as ready to travel along with its twin from manufacturer GomSpace in Denmark in early December to begin launch preparations in China.
"GomX-4B is scheduled to be launched on a Chinese Long March rocket on 1 February, along with GomX-4A, owned by the Danish Ministry of Defence," says Roger Walker, heading ESA's Technology CubeSat initiative.
The majority of tests were made at GomSpace and other facilities in Denmark, apart from thermal-vacuum testing - ensuring that the CubeSats can withstand the hard vacuum and temperature extremes of low orbit - which took place at ESA's technical centre in the Netherlands.
CubeSats are nanosatellites based on standardised 10x10 cm units. GomX-4B is a '6-unit' CubeSat, double the size of its predecessor GomX-3, which was released from the International Space Station in 2015.
Roger adds, "The two CubeSats will test intersatellite link technology, routing data from one satellite to the other, then down to the ground station. Part of the ground testing ensured they could indeed talk to each other and the actual ground station on an end-to-end basis."
Once released from the rocket, the CubeSats will first orient themselves to align their antennas. Then GomX-4B will gradually fly away from its counterpart, pausing at around 100 km intervals with their intersatellite links activated to see how well they work.
Their separation will be controlled by new cold-gas propulsion on GomX-4B contributed by Sweden's NanoSpace company, using highly miniaturised thrusters.
They will maintain their links through flat, patch antennas and software-controlled radios at a maximum distance of some 4500 km - a limit being set by the operating concept of a minimum of 10 satellites equally spaced around the same orbital plane to form a future constellation.
"As well as operating together, the two also have separate payloads," says Roger. "GomX-4B is the first CubeSat to fly our new HyperScout hyperspectral imager, developed by cosine Research in the Netherlands through ESA's General Support Technology Programme.
"Hyperscout images Earth in 45 different spectral bands, gathering a wealth of environmental data - so much so, in fact, that the camera must perform its own processing to drastically reduce the amount needing to be sent back to the ground."
GomX-4B also carries a new small startracker for precise attitude determination developed by Innovative Solutions in Space in the Netherlands, an ESA test payload checking components' susceptibility to space radiation, and a dedicated radio receiver to detect signals from worldwide air traffic.
"Now the testing has been concluded, our main job is to keep the satellites' batteries topped off, ahead of their transport to China," concludes Roger. "Once they arrive, they will be checked and the propellant tanks filled."
The pair is flying as secondary payloads with China's Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite, CSES-1, designed to detect precursor signals of earthquakes in Earth's ionosphere, an electrically active outer layer of the atmosphere.
Washington DC (SPX) Nov 22, 2017
NASA has launched four small research satellites, or CubeSats, developed by four universities as part of a broader mission launching the next generation polar-orbiting satellite to space. These CubeSat missions were selected through the CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) as part of the 14th installment of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions. The ELaNa XIV mission is an ... read more
Technology CubeSats at ESA
Microsat News and Nanosat News at SpaceMart.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|