RTX's small-satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT), announces successful launch and initial contact with CubeSats for the NASA Starling mission, a technology demonstration aimed at proving the success of cooperative groups of spacecraft operating in an autonomous, synchronous manner or "swarm."
BCT provided four 6U CubeSats to NASA's Small Spacecraft Technology program which is managed by NASA's Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley for the agency's Space Technology Mission Directorate. The Starling mission is advancing the readiness of various technologies for cooperative groups of spacecraft by demonstrating technologies to enable multipoint science data collection by several small spacecraft flying together. The six-month mission will specifically test onboard swarm maneuver planning and execution, communications networking, relative navigation, and autonomous coordination between satellites.
"We continue to push the boundaries of what's possible," said John Carvo, Executive Director of CubeSats at BCT. "By providing heritage hardware for a demonstration such as this, we're continually optimizing low-costs and quick turns for small constellation programs."
The satellites will be positioned in a nearly sun-synchronous, low-Earth orbit, with all four spacecraft actively engaged in the experiment.
BCT delivered the first satellite for the mission in 2021. In addition to manufacturing the satellites, BCT is providing operations support for the Starling mission, named after the bird famous for flying in a synchronous or "swarm" formation. Work on this program was performed in Lafayette, Colorado.