D-Orbit Has Been Busy Signing Up Satellite Customers

D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier is a flexible in-orbit transportation system for CubeSats and microsatellites. (Credit: D-Orbit UK)

Italian in-space transportation company D-Orbit had a busy couple of months with the announcement of deals with six companies to deploy satellites and hosted payloads into Earth orbit using the company’s ION Satellite Carrier orbital transfer vehicle.

Italian IoT Constellation

D-Orbit signed a multi-launch deal with satellite manufacturer Apogeo Space, which is building the first Italian constellation of picosats to provide global Internet of Things (IoT) communications coverage.

Apogeo Space is planning two to three launches of nine satellites measuring 10 x 10 x 3 cm between 2023 and 2027 for its PiCo-IoT constellation.

“This agreement with D-Orbit is of fundamental importance for us. It is a company with a very important heritage, with qualified and reliable services and devices, an essential condition when such a tight and defined launch program is foreseen for the development of a satellite constellation with commercial purposes like ours,” said Apogeo Space CEO and Co-founder Guido Parissenti in a press release.

The Italian Space Agency awarded 262,000 euros (US $27,6017) to Apogeo for the PiCo-IoT constellation. The company also raised 5 million euros (US $5.27 million) from Primo Space in a seed round.

NPC Spacemind Dispenser

NPC Spacemind has signed a contract for D-Orbit to deploy the FUTURA-SM1 3U CubeSat and FUTURA-SM3 6U Cubesat. The spacecraft will be integrated into NPC’s CubeSat dispensers and installed inside an ION Satellite Carrier.

D-Orbit plans to offer Spacemind’s CubeSat dispenser as an additional option for satellite operators once the system is validated in orbit.

“We are thrilled to join forces with NPC Spacemind for a wholly Italian partnership,” said Renato Panesi, D-Orbit’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Spacemind’s excellence in manufacturing space structures will further improve our ability to provide custom dispensers to fit even the most unusual mission configurations.”

Sub-Centimeter Space Debris Protection

ODIN Space signed an agreement for a D-Orbit ION Satellite Carrier to host a sensor capable of detecting space debris smaller than 1 cm in size. The launch is scheduled for the second quarter of 2023.

“We’re excited to announce this agreement with D-Orbit. They’re a great example of what the UK space sector is capable of,” said Dr. James New, CEO and co-founder of ODIN Space. “Since our time together on the UK Space Agency accelerator programme, we’ve built a really strong relationship with D-Orbit founded on our mutual commitment to a sustainable space industry.”

1-Micon Imaging Satellite

D-Orbit will deploy a satellite with an infrared camera capable of acquiring images in the 1 to 1.7 micron range for the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Spain.

The DRAGO-2 camera, an upgraded version of the Demonstrator for Remote Analysis of Ground Observations (DRAGO), will be installed on the ALISIO-1 6U CubeSat manufactured by Elecnor Deimos. DRAGO was tested aboard an ION Satellite Carrier in March 2021.

ALISIO-1’s mission to return medium-high resolution images for the study of desertification, oil spills and wildfires. It is IAC’s first satellite.

“With the launch and deployment of IAC’s ALISIO-1 we will have a better insight of the requirements needed for the next Earth and astronomy missions, through the application of state-of-the-art technologies,” said Elecnor Deimos Satellite Systems Director Pablo Morillo.

SpaceQuest Satellites

AAC SpaceQuest, the U.S. subsidiary of AAC Clyde Space, has signed an agreement with D-Orbit for the deployment of two marine satellites with an option for the deployment for two additional spacecraft.

“The satellites, called respectively Sedna 1, 2 will scale the company’s satellite automatic identification system (“S-AIS”) space infrastructure and validate new, key maritime space-data technologies,” D-Orbit said in a press release.

“We are very pleased to develop our relationship with D-Orbit as a trusted partner in this key phase of expansion for our satellite data services business and look forward to our continued partnership on subsequent launches for our new SednaSats,” said Chris Fauquier, CEO of AAC SpaceQuest.

The first two satellites will be launched in the fourth quarter of next year, with the remaining spacecraft following in 2024.

Hosted GNSS Receiver

D-Orbit has signed an agreement to integrate a SpacePNT global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver prototype as a hosted payload aboard an ION Satellite Carrier. GNSS describes a satellite constellation that provides positioning, navigation and timing services.

The receiver will undergo “a prolonged series of orbital tests that will validate the ability of the receiver to estimate the position and velocity of ION throughout its lifetime, its ability to perform in-flight firmware and software updates, and its long-term survivability in a space environment. SpacePNT will have the option to operate beyond the contractually established operation package through a pay-per-use pricing scheme based on usage and data transfer,” D-Orbit said in a press release.