NearSpace Launch Inc. (NSL) has a full plate.
The company manufactures cubesats for both commercial and government missions, boasting 600+ systems and subsystems in orbit over the past 5 years. They have also delivered 90 pico-satellites for universities and STEM programs, and built and flown 110 radio systems to communicate with spacecraft. This combination of smallsat manufacturing and radio technology has created a new communications paradigm for cubesats utilizing the Globalstar network with NSL’s EyeStar radios. The result is near instantaneous communications virtually anywhere in LEO orbit.
NSL’s TagSat-2, now renamed TROOP-2 (Train-Rapid on Orbit Payload), is onboard Spaceflight’s SXRS-5 (SpaceX’s Transporter-2) mission, scheduled to launch no earlier than June 2021. It will provide 24/7 telemetry plus critical mission data while hosting payloads for experimental testing. As a hosted payload, TROOP will remain attached to the Sherpa OTV for the duration of the vehicle’s life in orbit, which will be around eight years.
“We’ve enjoyed a long working relationship with Spaceflight going back to 2018 and their SSO-A mission when we implemented our Black Box units to provide 24/7 connectivity to report the health and safety of satellites,” said Matt Voss, COO at NearSpace Launch Inc. “Helping organizations track and report the location of their cubesats has never been more important in the industry as we seek to partner to fight orbit debris with Spaceflight on many more missions to enable these capabilities for more organizations.”
NSL’s Globalstar radios provide continuous connectivity for smallsats in orbit, no matter where they are. They deliver real-time data at low latency of a few seconds, making it a critical component of mission success; discovering satellite health problems early, making real-time data available for payload trigging, failure analysis, or monitoring attitude performance. All data is available securely on a global basis on the internet in near real-time from the Globalstar commercial ground stations, making it a convenient “always on” solution for organizations. Reporting this data to the U.S. Space Force’s 18th Space Control Squadron is key for maintaining space situational awareness to assure safety and freedom for all in space.
“With the TROOP-2 mission, we’ll be able to provide telemetry and tracking data onboard the Sherpa OTV,” added Voss. “And since we had the space, we integrated four experimental projects into our payload, and will be servicing the whole group on orbit.”
And it’s just the start. NSL first launched TROOP-1 (TAGSAT-1) on the Spaceflight SXRS-3 mission on SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission on a Falcon 9 in January 2021, with 100% mission success. Now the company is planning recurring TROOP missions every three to six months to add more payloads coupled with telemetry capabilities.
“What’s unique about Spaceflight is they provide a consistent, rhythmic train of launches,” said Voss. “When you’re testing systems and payloads, you must constantly innovate. Waiting two to three years to launch could kill our business, but by partnering with Spaceflight we have routine access to space which helps us rapidly iterate and build off previous missions. Plus, we’re very impressed with their Sherpa OTV strategy and the maturity it is bringing to the market, taking last-mile delivery to the mainstream. Our companies enjoy a shared vision and determination to provide value to the market, and our journey together has been very positive.”