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MISSION UPDATES

UPDATE #7 - May 4th, 2021 - ORBITAL MANEUVERS

Over the past few weeks, our operations team has been involved in the successful testing and validation of ION’s orbital maneuver capabilities, including the firing of Dawn's aerospace B20 thrusters, attitude and orbit control strategies and algorithms, post-firings orbital determination, and flight dynamic processes. 
We're now getting closer to the official beginning of the in-orbit demonstration phase of the mission.

UPDATE #6 - MARCH 11th, 2021 - HOSTED PAYLOADS COMMISSIONING PHASE

After the successful deployment of 8 Planet’s Superdoves from ION Satellite Carrier, we have now entered the commissioning phase and preliminary testing of the two optical payloads hosted onboard: ARGO and DRAGO. ARGO is a fully autonomous plug & play star tracker, developed by EICAS Automazione and specifically designed to satisfy the needs of the emerging small satellites market, especially in term of cost-competitiveness. DRAGO, which stands for Demonstrator for Remote Analysis of Ground Observations, is a short-wave infrared space camera for Earth observation developed by Instituto Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC). Both payloads will shortly begin their mission.

UPDATE #5 - FEBRUARY 22nd, 2021 - DEPLOYMENT OF LAST PLANET'S SUPERDOVE

The 8th and last of Planet’s Superdoves hosted onboard has successfully been deployed and Planet has confirmed acquisition of signal. 

UPDATE #3 - FEBRUARY 10th, 2021 - BEGINNING OF THE DEPLOYMENT PHASE

Over the past few days, ION SCV Laurentius has successfully deployed 2 of the 8 Planet’s Superdove satellites hosted onboard in the precise orbital slot requested by the client. After the smooth release of the spacecraft from our deployer, Planet has confirmed the acquisition of the signal.

UPDATE #4 - FEBRUARY 16th, 2021 - DEPLOYMENT PHASE PROGRESS

We are now at satellite #5 of the 8 Planet’s Superdoves hosted onboard. In the meantime, we started downloading pictures taken by D-Sense, our multi-sensors, camera-equipped attitude determination and control module. (Scotland in the bottom right)

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UPDATE #2 - FEBRARY 2nd, 2021 - LEOP AND COMMISSIONING PHASE

After acquiring the signal from ION SCV Laurentius over the past week, our operations team has been performing all actions and procedures required by the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) and Commissioning phase.
ION will then be ready for the first part of the Pulse mission: the precise deployment of the 20 satellites hosted onboard.

UPDATE #1 - JANUARY 24th, 2021 - LAUNCH

On January 24th, 2021, at 4:00 pm CET, we launched another ION Satellite Carrier atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (CCSFS), Florida. On the same day, 1 hour 16 minutes and 28 seconds the vehicle was successfully deployed into a polar orbit.

The spacecraft, named ION SCV Laurentius, is an upgraded and enhanced version of the vehicle launched in the fall of 2020, which precisely deployed twelve satellites in orbit. 

During its mission, named PULSE, the vehicle will deploy 20 satellites, among which eight SuperDoves from Earth imaging company Planet Labs, and perform the in-orbit demonstration of two optical payloads from EICAS and Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) respectively, among other experiments on unique payloads

ION PULSE MISSION ROADMAP

PHASE 1 -  COMMISSIONING

As soon as ION SCV Laurentius 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 Laurentius starts the commercial phase of the mission with the deployment of the hosted satellites into a 500km sun-synchronous orbit. Over a period of about four weeks, ION performs the precise deployment of 20 satellites.

As in its previous mission ORIGIN, ION deploys satellites through its innovative deployment strategy, called FAST DISPERSION, which enables an even distribution of the spacecraft along the operational orbit within a fraction of the time allowed by traditional dispersion techniques. 

PHASE 3 - COMMERCIAL IOD

After completing the deployment phase, ION SCV Laurentius performs the in-orbit demonstration and validation (IOD/IOV) of two commercial third-party payloads:

  • ARGO, a fully autonomous plug & play star tracker developed by EICAS Automazione.

  • DRAGO - Demonstrator for Remote Analysis of Ground Observations, a short-wave infrared space camera for Earth observation developed by the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC).

PHASE 4 - INTERNAL EXPERIMENTS

Before the official end of the mission, our engineers perform additional testing of subsystems, maneuvers, and procedures in preparation for the upcoming  Wild Ride mission.

PHASE 5 - 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.