Spaceflight, Inc. Chooses Tethers Unlimited’s Terminator Tape for Deorbit of OTV

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module interacts with the space environment to rapidly drag a satellite out of orbit. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

BOTHELL, Wash. (Tethers Unlimited PR) – Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) is pleased to announce that Spaceflight Inc. has selected TUI’s NanoSat Terminator Tape Deorbit System for end-of life disposal of its new Sherpa-FX orbit transfer vehicle.

As part of an upcoming mission, Spaceflight will test the deorbit process with the Terminator Tape. When the orbit transfer vehicle’s mission is completed, a timer release system will deploy the Terminator Tape to rapidly deorbit the Sherpa-FX vehicle so that it does not contribute to the growth of the space debris problem.

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Millennium Space Systems and Tethers Unlimited to Test Space Tether Solution

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module interacts with the space environment to rapidly drag a satellite out of orbit. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

Two small satellites set to race in space; scientifically compare deorbit capability

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Millennium Space PR) – Two Millennium Space Systems-built DRAGRACER small satellites are being prepared for a first-of-its kind, controlled flight experiment later this year to mature future deorbit tether systems for low Earth orbiting satellites.

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Tethers Unlimited’s Robotic Tool-Change System Selected for More NASA Funding

Rgw androgynous robotic tool-change interface (ARTIE) in action. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Tethers Unlimited’s androgynous robotic tool-change interface (ARTIE) for continued funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

ARTIE is designed for the hard and soft capture of tools and infrastructure support for robotic assets such as Tethers Unlimited’s KRAKEN robotic manipulator and NASA’s Astrobee.

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Tethers Unlimited’s HyperBus Receives Additional NASA Funding

HyperBus orbital platform (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has selected Tethers Unlimited Inc. (TUI) for additional funding to develop its HyperBus Cargo (HBC) platform, which is designed to move modules around in space to support orbital construction.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) phase II award will provide up to $750,000 to further HBC development. NASA previously funded the program with a smaller phase I award.

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AMERGINT Acquires Tethers Unlimited

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. & BOTHELL, Wash.–(AMERGINT/Tethers Unlimited PR) — AMERGINT Technology Holdings (AMERGINT) today announced it has acquired Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI), a leader in new space solutions for the small satellite market. The transaction will bring together AMERGINT Technologies, Inc. and TUI to provide integrated end-to-end solutions for satellite communications and in-space services to the space market. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Tethers Unlimited Delivers Space Networking Solution

BOTHELL, Wash (Tethers Unlimited)  — Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) announced the delivery of the first mesh network inter-satellite crosslink solution for small satellites. TUI’s SWIFT-LINQ network is a software ‘app’ that runs on TUI’s SWIFT® flight-heritage software defined radios to connect satellite constellations, clusters, and formations together with a resilient, adaptable mesh network. 

SWIFT-LINQ supports standard TCP/IP protocols to enable seamless, straightforward data transfer between satellites. Satellites connected via SWIFT-LINQ can share resources and data, empowering groups of low-cost small satellites to perform missions that traditionally would have required large, very expensive satellites. 

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NASA Funds Demonstration of Assembly and Manufacturing in Space

SPIDER on the Restore-L satellite. (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — NASA has awarded a $142 million contract to Maxar Technologies of Westminster, Colorado, to robotically assemble a communications antenna and manufacture a spacecraft beam in orbit. The technology demonstration is slated to take place on NASA’s Restore-L spacecraft, designed to service and refuel a satellite in low-Earth orbit.

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Tethers Unlimited Announces Successful Operation of Space-Debris Removal Device

The Terminator Tape Deorbit Module interacts with the space environment to rapidly drag a satellite out of orbit. (Credit: Tethers Unlimited)

BOTHELL, Wa. (Tethers Unlimited PR) – Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) announced that it has successfully demonstrated on-orbit operation of the Terminator Tape, an affordable, lightweight solution for removing space debris from on orbit.

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NASA STTR Awards Focused on Advanced Thermal Protection Systems

This computer-generated art depicts Orion’s heat shield protecting the crew module as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

As NASA is funding research into lighter and more capable thermal protection systems (TPSs) producing using additive manufacturing (3D printing) as it looks to land ever larger payloads on other worlds and return extraterrestrial soil samples to Earth.

The space agency recently selected four heat shield proposals from corporate-university partnerships for funding under its Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. The phase 1 grants are worth up to $125,000 over 13 months.

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Tethers Unlimited Aims to Put SPIDERs on Mars

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

During the 1970’s, David Bowie sang about Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars. If Tethers Unlimited has its way, the Red Planet will be crawling with them.

Earlier this month, NASA selected the Bothell, Washington-based company for a small business award to work on its Sensing and Positioning in Deep Environments with Retrieval (SPIDER) surface exploration system.

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NASA Selects In-Space and Advanced 3-D Manufacturing Technologies for Funding

NASA is continuing to encourage the use of 3-D manufacturing technologies for use on Earth and in space through the space agency’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

In addition to funding two projects by Made in Space focused on glass alloys and structures for advanced interferometery missions, the space agency also selected six other additive manufacturing proposals for funding under SBIR Phase II.

The awards, which are worth up to $750,000 for as long as two years, are focused on expanding additive manufacturing (AM) to include the use of stronger plastics and metals as well plastics recycling and improving production on Earth. One company is developing the ability to print next-generation electronics aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Several of the proposals are developing materials and technologies that would be used in a new additive manufacturing system called FabLab that NASA will launch to the station. The new printer would use multiple materials instead of just plastic feed stock to print parts and tools.

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NASA Selects Tethers Unlimited’s HYDROS-C Thruster for First PTD CubeSat Mission

BOTHELL, Wash. (Tethers Unlimited PR) — NASA has selected TUI’s HYDROS-C thruster for demonstration on the first Pathfinder Technology Demonstration (PTD) CubeSat mission, planned for launch in early 2019.

The HYDROS-C thruster, developed under a NASA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract and matured to flight-readiness under a NASA Tipping Point Technologies Public-Private Partnership, is a revolutionary space propulsion technology that uses water as propellant.

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Tethers Unlimited Delivers SWIFT K-Band CubeSat Transmitter

SWIFT K-Band CubeSat transmitter (Credit; Tethers Unlimited)

BOTHELL, Wash. (Tethers Unlimited PR) — Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) announced that it has successfully delivered the first flight unit of its new K-Band transmitter for small satellites to a confidential customer.

Developed under a Small Business Innovation Research contract from the US Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command, the SWIFT®-KTX transmitter builds upon TUI’s high-maturity SWIFT software defined radio platform to enable satellites as small as a loaf of bread to transmit data at rates exceeding 100 megabits per second (Mbps).

Capabilities

SWIFT-KTX provides small satellites with a high-throughput downlink in K-band. When paired with the next generation SWIFT baseband processor and sufficient link margin, real data rates of 500 Mbps or more are achievable using high order modulation (>3 bits/Hz) and Turbo/LDPC encoding.

Two transmitter front-end modules are currently in development. Each module includes a two 2W PAs that directly drive two switchable WR-42 waveguide interfaces for left/right antenna polarization agility. A third ≈10 dBm waveguide output is available before the PAs for driving TWTAs and integrated K-band ESAs.

  • >500 MHz real modulation bandwidth
  • Two discrete designs covering approximately:
    • 18-23 GHz
    • 23-28 GHz
  • ≈ 3 dBm saturated output power w/ ≈20 dB adjustable range
  • Three switchable WR-42 waveguide outputs (two w/ HPAs)

Target Specifications

  • >3 year LEO mission design life
  • 1/3U or smaller: 86×86 x < 40mm
  • < 500 grams
  • 6-36V unregulated DC
    • Integrated latch-up/fault detection and protection
  • Flexible mounting options
    • Flanges for deck mounting
    • Ears for CubeSat rail mounting
  • Power consumption:
    • Current generation 50 MHz baseband processor: ≈3W
    • Next generation 500 MHz baseband processor: ≈15W
    • K/Ka-band module power consumption for 33 dBm output: ≈16W
  • High-speed interface options:
    • 1Gbit Ethernet
    • 200 Mbps SpaceWire (LVDS)
    • 200 Mbps sync. HDLC over LVDS
    • 10+Gbps SERDES (next generation baseband processor only)