Efforts Progress on CubeSat Proximity Operations Demonstration

CPOD_diagram
CPOD flight plan. (Credit: NASA)

IRVINE, Calif. (Tyvak PR) – Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc., the industry leader in nano-satellites and turnkey SmallSat solutions, today announced that it successfully completed the development of the Cubesat Proximity Operations Demonstration (CPOD) vehicles and has officially received the approval to continue into the Vehicle Assembly Integration and Testing (AI&T) Phase.

The Cubesat Proximity Operations Demonstration (CPOD) mission will demonstrate rendezvous, proximity operations and docking using two three-unit (3U) cubesats. This mission will validate and characterize several miniature, low-power avionics technologies applicable to future NASA projects. The CPOD project is led by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, Inc. of Irvine, California with funding from NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program.

CPOD satellite. (Credit: NASA)
CPOD satellite. (Credit: NASA)

After undergoing multiple rigorous program reviews, the management team of the Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP) at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., determined that the Tyvak’s team is actively retiring all the foreseeable risks and is demonstrating the required technical and programmatic capabilities to successfully complete this phase of the project. SSTP managers also recognized that with Tyvak’s continued success, the team will be in an excellent position to proceed with the final phase of the project leading to the on-orbit operations.

“We are grateful for the support and trust that NASA has given us throughout the project’s development.” said Dr. Marco Villa, Tyvak’s President and Chief Operating Officer. “Tyvak has established itself as a leader in the NanoSatellite segment by recognition of its advanced technical capabilities,” Dr. Villa added, “but it is great to also be acknowledged for our attentiveness and diligence towards program management and mission assurance. Surely this wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for our outstanding engineering team and our invaluable partners 406 Aerospace, Applied Defense Solutions, and VACCO Industries. “

With responsibility over the entire mission, from subsystems’ design to operations, Tyvak announced to be still on-track with the original schedule, and to expect a full vehicle integrated by the end of the year with Flight Readiness Review as early as May 2015.

For more information about CPOD, go to
https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/spacetech/small_spacecraft/cpod_project.html.

About Tyvak: Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems Inc. provides turnkey solutions for SmallSat customers, from innovations to operations, making space research and utilization more accessible today than it has ever been. Tyvak can handle all your satellite needs from design and build, to test, launch and operations. With decades of experience in all sectors of the industry, the Tyvak team is unmatched in the small satellite industry. Engineers work with clients to shrink payload specifications, enabling more cost-effective development and transport to orbit. Tyvak systems are adaptable, have low power consumption and are easily customizable to support multiple applications. For more information, go to www.tyvak.com.

Cubesat Proximity Operations Demonstration (CPOD)
Via NASA

The Cubesat Proximity Operations Demonstration (CPOD) mission will demonstrate rendezvous, proximity operations and docking using two three-unit (3U) cubesats. This mission will validate and characterize several miniature, low-power avionics technologies applicable to future NASA projects. The CPOD project is led by Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems, LLC of Irvine, California with funding from NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program. The three-year project was initiated in November 2012.

Each of the satellites has dimensions of 10 by 10 by 33 centimeters and has a mass of about 5 kilograms. The satellites also have deployable solar panels.

CPOD will demonstrate the ability of two small spacecraft to remain at determined points relative to each other (called station-keeping) as well as precision circumnavigation and docking using imaging sensors and a multi-thruster cold gas propulsion system. Docking will employ a novel universal docking mechanism. The ability of satellites to operate in close proximity to each other is an important capability to enable on-orbit inspection and servicing of satellites and to allow multiple satellites to operate together in space and even join to form a larger spacecraft or orbiting systems. This capability would also apply to a spacecraft maneuvering near an asteroid or other body on a science or exploration mission. Building these capabilities into very small spacecraft is an especially difficult challenge and advancement in this field will make some complex space missions more affordable.

After launch, the two cubesats will be released simultaneously into a common orbit and undergo checkout to ensure proper operation and maneuvering capability. Each satellite will use its space-to-ground data link to transmit visual images of the other satellite. An inter-satellite link will share GPS and other data between the two spacecraft. Many of the proximity operations test scenarios will be performed autonomously using on-board processors and flight software for guidance, navigation and control. Using on-board navigation systems, one cubesat will perform a series of circumnavigation maneuvers relative to the second cubesat in order to validate and characterize the sensor systems. After completing these maneuvers the two spacecraft will approach and dock using a unique mechanism to join the satellites together. Several docking maneuvers may be attempted during the mission.

The CPOD mission was selected for a flight opportunity as part of the NASA Cubesat Launch Initiative. The two CPOD spacecraft will be launched to low Earth orbit and deployed on a rideshare mission arranged by the Launch Services Program. The satellites are expected to be ready to launch in 2015.

Partners with Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems on the CPOD project include Applied Defense Solutions Inc. of Columbia, Maryland, 406 Aerospace LLC of Bozeman, Montana, and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.