Alta Devices powers successful CubeSat mission
(6 August 2018 - Alta Devices) A successful CubeSat mission by Twiggs Space Lab (TSL), NearSpace Launch (NSL) and their launch logistics partner, NanoRacks, was powered by Alta Devices solar.
The Asgardia-1 satellite was based on NSL’s FastBus platform and powered by approximately 24 watts of Alta solar cells. Launched in November 2017 on an Orbital ATK (now Northrop Grumman) cargo resupply mission, the 2U-size FastBus was inserted into a 475 km low earth orbit in December 2017 via the NanoRacks External Cygnus Deployer. The 2U satellite carried a payload which included a solid-state memory experiment and particle detectors used to determine the actual effects of on-orbit radiation.
TSL, NSL and NanoRacks are at the forefront of small satellite innovation and are pioneering new, disruptive models of satellites that are much smaller, simpler, and more affordable. Their mission is to broaden access to space for educational as well as commercial participants. They selected Alta Devices solar technology due to its unique modular, lightweight, and high efficiency characteristics.
Asgardia-1 satellite (courtesy: NearSpace Launch)
Bob Twiggs, founder of TSL, states, “Our goal is to inspire future generations of engineers and scientists through innovation in the field of space. Alta Devices technology is easy to integrate, and its modular form factor is well-suited to the standardized dimensions of CubeSats. Our team is excited about the potential to innovate and rapidly prototype using this technology”. Dr. Hank Voss, founder of NearSpace Launch, Inc. adds, “With the FastBus, we aim to provide a reliable, affordable, and quick-turn CubeSat platform built on our heritage of communication and bus technologies. We are very excited to be using Alta Devices technology to serve the needs of our stakeholders.”
NanoRacks CEO, Jeffrey Manber, said, “At Nanoracks, we’re focused on lowering the barriers of entry to space. We see adoption of innovative solar and bus technologies as another critical piece of the puzzle in making space exploration accessible to entrepreneurs, scientists, students, corporations, and space researchers around the world.” About Alta’s glass-free solar cells he added, “any component that is more robust, withstands the launch loads, and maintains a clean ride-share environment is going to make things easier for everyone on a practical and regulatory perspective. The Alta solar cells came through with flying colors on the Asgardia-1 satellites.”
CubeSats (satellites weighing less than 15kg) were originally developed for university students to participate in space research. The standard has now been adopted worldwide and has helped to ignite a small satellite revolution. Typically placed into low-earth orbits, they often have standardized or off-the-shelf components and have facilitated more affordable and easier access to space. CubeSats are driving new industries via the explosion of big data accessible from space.
All satellites need solar cells to generate electrical power. Until now, no commercial solar technologies could match the improvement in cost, weight, and ease of use that other components of small satellite technology have achieved: solar cells are traditionally expensive, fragile, rigid, and difficult to encapsulate and robustly attach to spacecraft.
Alta Devices solar cells overcome these challenges because they are flexible, easy to encapsulate and mount, and provide high power conversion efficiencies. For example, Alta Devices cells can be mounted to low-mass deployable structures including coiled carbon fiber booms, flat-packed, polymer-based accordioned arrays, even inflatable structures, allowing creative design approaches to maximizing onboard solar power. Alta Devices is empowering autonomy, as its cells provide a new level of mechanical and design flexibility for the small satellite industry.
Jian Ding, CEO of Alta Devices, explains, “Innovation in solar is essential to the continued evolution of small satellite technology. The industry has seen disruptive change in every technology area except in solar cells. Solar cells were expensive, challenging to integrate, and hard to procure, until now. The success of the FastBus mission provides another data point validating our technology and further cements our commitment to our partners as they plan their upcoming launches.”
Alta Devices will be exhibiting at the 32nd Annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, UT this year at Booth 145. On display will be Alta Devices solar technologies and TSL and NSL SmallSats. NanoRacks will be in attendance at the Small Satellite Conference in the East Colony Room.
About Twiggs Space Lab
Twiggs Space Lab, LLC is focused on creating STEAM based products and curriculum to stimulate, engage, and encourage students to pursue interests in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. The company’s mission is to inspire future generations of engineers and scientists to make the world a better place through innovative research in space. Prof. Twiggs was a consulting professor at Stanford University Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics starting in 1994 where he established the Space Systems Development Laboratory. While at Stanford in 1999, he was the co-developer of the CubeSat concept. Prof. Twiggs was also the creative mind responsible for developing the original concepts for the CricketSat, CanSat, and the PocketQube for educational applications for use in space. Prof. Twiggs has published numerous papers and made dozens of presentations at technical conferences in the US and internationally.
About NearSpace Launch
NearSpace Launch, Inc. (NSL) was started by two Taylor University professors, Hank Voss & Jeff Dailey following the successful Mission of TSAT in spring of 2014. This mission proved the effectiveness of a Globalstar radio connection for extraterrestrial radio communication. NSL manufactures and produces custom satellites, Globalstar enabled communication systems, and high-altitude balloons for a variety of educational, commercial, and government applications. To date, NSL has a 100% mission success rate with 5 out of 5 custom satellites flying their missions, and many more radios and components excelling at their respective mission tasks. NSL manufactures and produces custom satellites, Globalstar enabled communication systems, and high-altitude balloons for a variety of educational, commercial, and government applications. NearSpace Launch, Inc. built Nanoracks’ Asgardia-1 satellite as well as MakerSAT-0, which launched in fall 2017.
NanoRacks is the world’s first commercial space station company with an existing customer base. The company offers low-cost, high-quality solutions to the most pressing needs for satellite deployment, basic and educational research and both at home and in 30 nations worldwide for those new to the industry and aerospace veterans. Since 2009, Texas-based NanoRacks has truly created new markets and ushered in a new era of in space-services. As of July 2018, over 700 payloads have been launched to the International Space Station via NanoRacks services, and our customer base includes the European Space Agency (ESA) the German Space Agency (DLR,) the American space agency (NASA,) US Government Agencies, Spire, Millennium Space Systems, Space Florida, NCESSE, Virgin Galactic, pharmaceutical companies, and organizations in Vietnam, UK, Romania and Israel.
About Alta Devices
Alta Devices is Empowering Autonomy by delivering the world’s most efficient, thin and flexible mobile power technology. By converting light of any kind into electricity, Alta Devices’ AnyLight™ power technology extends the energy source of a system, and in many cases, completely cuts the traditional power cord. The solution can be completely integrated into the final system, and is ideal for use in small satellites, unmanned systems, consumer electronics, sensors, automotive, remote exploration, or anywhere size, weight, and mobility matter. Alta Devices holds world records for energy conversion efficiency and is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA.