Military Embedded Systems

NASA CubeSat mission reports successful launch of & contact with autonomous swarm


August 14, 2023

Lisa Daigle

Assistant Managing Editor

Military Embedded Systems

NASA/Conceptual Image Lab/Ross Walter

LAFAYETTE, Colo. Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT) -- a subsidiary of RTX -- announced the successful launch and initial contact with CubeSats for the NASA Starling mission, a technology demonstration aimed at proving the success of cooperative groups of spacecraft operating in a swarm, or an autonomous, synchronous manner. 

Under the BCT-NASA collaboration, BCT provided four 6U CubeSats to NASA's Small Spacecraft Technology program. According to the BCT announcement, the six-month-long NASA's Starling mission is aimed at advancing the readiness of various technologies for cooperative groups of spacecraft by demonstrating technologies to enable multipoint science data collection by several small spacecraft flying together. The mission is set to test onboard swarm maneuver planning and execution, communications networking, relative navigation, and autonomous coordination between the small satellites.

The 6U CubeSats will be positioned in a nearly sun-synchronous, low-Earth orbit, with all four spacecraft actively engaged in the experiment. BCT is also tasked with providing operations support for NASA during the Starling mission.

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