UPDATE #1 - SEPTEMBER 3rd, 2020 - LAUNCH
At 3.51 CEST, we have launched our first satellite carrier, ION SCV LUCAS, from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana atop an Arianespace Vega launcher.
The mission, named Origin, is the first commercial flight of ION Satellite Carrier, a small spacecraft deployer designed, manufactured, and operated by us. ION’s ability to perform orbital maneuvers, like change of altitude and true anomaly phasing, enables this first version of the Carrier to quickly release CubeSats and microsatellites into precise and independent orbital slots, allowing customers to start their missions sooner and in optimal operational conditions.
The first part of the Origin mission consists in the smart deployment of a flock of 12 small satellites into a 500km sun-synchronous orbit. Subsequently, we will perform some IOD/IOV of dedicated payloads, culminating in the demonstration mission of an onboard propulsive module that will be used commercially starting on the next mission scheduled in December this year.
UPDATE #2 - SEPTEMBER 8th, 2020 - HEALTH CHECK
We have managed to establish a bidirectional link with the satellite.
We have already stabilized the spacecraft’s attitude, neutralizing the tumbling imparted by the launch vehicle during separation. The attitude determination and control system (ADCS) is pointing towards the Sun and the batteries, already well-charged, are recharging as expected during illumination periods.
The most important thing – the payload – is nominal: all the SuperDoves spacecraft are onboard, and no failures have been detected by the on-board failure detection system.
In conclusion, the system so far appears nominal. We are currently analyzing the latest data-dumps to identify possible anomalies that may have occurred while the satellite was out of the visibility window. Over the next visibility windows, we are going to run the diagnostics and proceed with commissioning.
ION ORIGIN MISSION ROADMAP
PHASE 1 - COMMISSIONING
As soon as ION SCV LUCAS reaches orbit, our spacecraft operations engineers establish a bidirectional communication channel. We then start the launch and early orbit phase (LEOP), neutralizing the rotation imparted by the launch vehicle during separation, correcting the attitude, testing the satellite’s subsystems, and preparing for the next phases.
PHASE 2 - COMMERCIAL PHASE, ORBITAL TRANSPORTATION
Once concluded the commissioning phase, ION SCV LUCAS starts the commercial phase of the mission with the deployment of satellites into a 500km sun-synchronous orbit. The deployment strategy, called fast dispersion, enables an even distribution along the operational orbit within a fraction of the time allowed by traditional dispersion techniques.
PHASE 3 - COMMERCIAL IOD
After completing the deployment, ION SCV LUCAS performs in-orbit demonstration and validation (IOD/IOV) of commercial payloads integrated within the platform, including a green propulsion system developed by a third-party company.
PHASE 4 - EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
The Origin mission includes an educational program in collaboration with an “Istituto Statale di Istruzione Superiore" (ISIS) in the Lombardy Region and Aviosonic. The program enables high-level students – who have been involved in the development of an amatorial ground station– to establish a communication channel with the satellite through a UHF transceiver that works in satellite amateur radio band (435 – 438 MHz). Once connected, the students will be able to downlink telemetry and execute a number of educational operations through telecommands.
PHASE 5 - INTERNAL EXPERIMENTS
Before the official end of the mission, our engineers perform additional testing of subsystems, maneuvers, and procedures in preparation for the upcoming Pulse and Wild Ride missions.
PHASE 6 - DECOMMISSIONING
At the end of the mission, the spacecraft is decommissioned in compliance with the Space Debris Mitigation guidelines. The pressure vessels are depleted from leftover fuel and oxidizer, the battery charging system is deactivated, and the batteries are completely discharged. The spacecraft, now inert, enters a decommissioning trajectory that will bring it to burn up upon atmospheric re-entry within a few years.