Home Recent News Cubesats have a hard time in space. Especially when they’ve been waiting a long time to start

Cubesats have a hard time in space. Especially when they’ve been waiting a long time to start


A week after the launch of the Artemis I mission to the Moon, the surroundings of this Earth satellite come to life. In addition to a series of great images and good news about the progress of the flight, notably yesterday’s flyby of only 130 kilometers above the surface of the Moon, as well as the missions of most tracking satellites (small satellites), the first bad news has also returned “home”.

It might work next time. This has to be said these days by members of the Japan Space Agency (JAXA) team, whose Omoteshi probe failed to properly communicate with the control microsatellite. But for an approximately one-kilogram descent vehicle with its own rocket engine, this means only one thing: it will definitely not land on the Moon. After impact, the device was supposed to measure the level of surface radiation and soil mechanics using two inflatable balloons.

Engineers are now looking forward to March 2023 with hope. At that time it may bemore favorable conditions for communication” with a probe, which will lead to a new mission. However, whether it will be possible to solve the problem of insufficient electrical voltage in the cubesat circuits is not yet clear. The device did not behave normally after launch, it rotated a little and its solar panels were not exposed to the Sun (hence the low voltage in the entire device).

Omoteshi was one of dozens of small satellites that docked on the main cover of the Orion module. But he was not alone in trouble. Message about correct operation since launch she did not present for example, the Terran Orbital company also does not talk about the LunIR apparatus – interested parties talk about anomalies in the probe’s communication data. The cubesat of European origin was supposed to map the surface of the moon, find out its composition and the processes taking place on it in the framework of interaction with space. These data were supposed to be used to select suitable future landing sites, as well as to assess the potential risks of cosmout expeditions to the lur surface.

So far, the Near-Earth Asteroid Scout (NEA) is also silent, which was supposed to set off with the help of a solar sail with an area of ​​86 square meters (!) On a two-year trip to the nearest asteroid. He had to take detailed photos with his 4K CMOS camera and send the data back. Later, astronomers intended to use them to prepare other missions to near-Earth asteroids.

And the silence on the path of the notorious spacewalk remains even after the “shoebox”, as six-unit cubesats are also called (one unit has an edge of 10 x 10 x 10 centimeters), the most ambitious project: Team Miles. With the help of innovative iodine plasma jets, he intended to fly to Mars and become the most powerful vehicle ever to reach the red planet, using (almost) only his own powers. The test of electromagnetic waves as a possible drive will probably not take place yet.

However, a number of problems with the cubesats appear to have been caused not by poor technical or design condition, but by the simple fact that they were “stuck” at the tip of the Orion module for too long (possibly due to problems with fuel injection into the SLS) . or a raging hurricane) and some of the battery systems just “kneeled”. Although the engineers tried to penetrate the dome and recharge the batteries, the design of some – NASA engineers did not specify which ones – did not allow this. And most of all I did not want to break everything again, because it would lead to an even greater delay in the start of the main mission, which, as everyone probably understands, is not in anyone’s interests.

But not to spew bad news here: a positive message has come from the headquarters of the CAPSTONE cubesat mission. It was launched by RocketLab in June, but then there were problems with communication with the device, and especially with its maneuvering. Thus, the entire mission of mapping a new lur orbit (in the form of an extreme ellipse) was in jeopardy.

However, a team from NASA and Advanced Space resolved the problem with the failed engine and proudly announced earlier this week that the cubesat is operatiol, in the correct orbit as of Nov. 13, and starting its mission as planned. This, incidentally, means that he became the first cubesat in orbit around the moon. I send my congratulations and hope that the four devices mentioned above will overcome the technical difficulties.

Source: Blesk


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