Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) has successfully launched and made initial contact with four 6U CubeSats for NASA’s Starling mission.

The six-month mission aims to demonstrate the success of small spacecraft working together autonomously to enable multipoint science data collection. The Starling mission will specifically test onboard swarm manoeuvre planning and execution, communications networking, relative navigation, and autonomous coordination between satellites.

BCT, a small-satellite manufacturer and mission services provider owned by RTX, provided the first CubeSat for the Starling mission in 2021 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.

BCT is also providing operational support for the mission, which is named after the bird famous for flying in a synchronous or ‘swarm’ formation.

“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. It is hoped that the mission will advance the readiness of various technologies for cooperative groups of spacecraft flying together.

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Image: Adobe Stock
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