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Deep Space Industries teams with UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory to demonstrate autonomous spacecraft maneuvering

25 Jan 2016, 20:30 UTC
Deep Space Industries teams with UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory to demonstrate autonomous spacecraft maneuvering
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SFL and DSI demonstrate enabling technology for low-cost asteroid missions and constellations
The world’s first demonstration of autonomous spacecraft maneuvering was recently completed by Silicon Valley-based Deep Space Industries (DSI) and the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) of Toronto, Canada. Using their highly-successful CanX-4 and CanX-5 pair of nanosatellites, SFL operators executed a DSI-defined experiment on-orbit, in which the world’s first spacecraft-to-spacecraft orbit maneuver was commanded by one satellite and executed by the other.
Image Courtesy of UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory. CanX-4 and CanX-5 are a pair of identical nanosatellites built by the Space Flight Laboratory, and launched in June 2014.
In this experiment, one of the two spacecraft (CanX-4) autonomously programmed the other (CanX-5) to perform an orbit change using its on-board propulsion system, over a shared S-band Inter-Satellite Link (ISL) radio. CanX-5 subsequently executed the maneuver, raising its orbit, as confirmed by operators at SFL’s Mission Control Center (MCC) in Toronto and data from the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
To the best of each organization’s knowledge, this is the first time in history that one satellite has autonomously commanded another to execute propulsive maneuvers, with no operator in the loop.
“This experiment ...

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