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CubeSats Get Close: Proximity Operation with Interesting Implications

24 Jul 2020, 18:17 UTC
CubeSats Get Close: Proximity Operation with Interesting Implications
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AeroCube-10A (which is only 10 x 10 x 15 cm itself) photographed from 26 meters away. (Credit: Aerospace Corporation)

One of Aerospace’s CubeSats photographed its twin satellite from 22 meters away in a demonstration of the type of technology that could enable inspection and servicing missions.

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — With some technical panache, one of The Aerospace Corporation’s CubeSats maneuvered itself within 22 meters of its sibling CubeSat and snapped a series of photos while orbiting at 17,000 miles per hour.

This incredibly difficult technology demonstration, performed by a satellite the size of a tissue box, paves the way for future inspection or servicing missions.

“AeroCube-10 is by far the smallest spacecraft to have accomplished a rendezvous and proximity operation so close,” said Catherine Venturini, an Aerospace Senior Project Leader and team lead for the AeroCube-10 mission. “This operation has successfully demonstrated that the future is open for very small and cost-effective spacecraft to perform on-orbit inspection (and potentially servicing) missions, to participate in science missions that require close proximity, and ultimately to advance to docking scenarios so that nanosatellites can join in the struggle to remove space debris from orbit.”

AeroCube-10 is a ...

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