Five AlbaPod v2, Alba Orbital’s PocketQube deployers and additively manufactured by CRP Technology, were launched as part of SpaceX’s Transporter 3 mission on the Falcon 9 rocket. The deployers were made using polymer PBF 3D printing and carbon fiber reinforced composite Windform XT 2.0. It first aired on Thursday 13 Januaryth2022.
The task forces successfully completed their mission: once they separated from the Falcon 9 rocket, the task forces began to launch the PocketQubes into orbit. These in turn began sending signals to Earth.
With 13 PocketQube spacecraft integrated into five 3D-printed AlbaPods v.2 deployers, the mission represented Alba Orbital’s largest cluster to date and the first PocketQubes deployment of Falcon-9 Transporter-3. This was the third dedicated launch for SpaceX’s small satellite ride-sharing service, which aims to give microsatellites and CubeSats a cheaper ride to orbit.
The Transporter-3 mission flew southeast from Cape Canaveral and then turned south parallel to the east coast of Florida to carry the Falcon 9 rocket’s 105 satellite passengers into a polar sun-synchronous orbit approximately 525 kilometers high.
Engineer Franco Cevolini, CEO and CTO at CRP Technology explained: “Congratulations to Alba Orbital and to all the teams that flew with them for all their hard work. On Thursday, January 13, 2022, a new milestone in the field of nanosatellites was reached: we are very proud to be active as a supplier of space-proven materials and technologies. This successful mission demonstrates once again the extreme value of windform materials for high-performance, heavy-duty and mission-critical applications.”
SpaceX’s Transporter 3 mission using the Falcon 9 rocket and the Alba Orbital’s associated Alba Cluster 3 & 4 mission consisted of integrating the 13 PocketQubes into 5 of the 3D printed deployers in preparation for launch. This goes well beyond a one-off prototyping process and leads to an actual manufacturing sector for both CRP Technology and its US-based partner CRP USA.
Four of the 13 PocketQubes participating in the mission marked a “First”:
- “UNICORN-2A, 2D and 2E are Alba Orbital’s first Earth observation satellites designed to provide the highest resolution datasets on Earth at night.
- “PION-BR1 is the very first satellite developed by a Brazilian start-up.
- “GRIZU-263a is Turkey’s very first pico-satellite launched into orbit. It was designed and built by Turkish student team Grizu-263 Uzay Takımı.
- TARTAN-ARTIBEUS-1 is the first intermittent, orbital edge-computing nanosatellite to operate without batteries aboard SpaceX’s Falcon-9 Transporter-3 mission. This open source project was developed at Carnegie Mellon University
The other PocketQubes integrated with Alba’s 3D printed deployers were:
- MDQube-SAT1, an Argentinian 2p PocketQube developed by Innova Space performing an IoT mission.
- UNICORN-1, another 2p PocketQube built by Alba, developed in collaboration with the European Space Agency ESA.
- HADES’ & ‘EASAT, two 1.5p PocketQubes developed in Spain by AMSAT-EA and Hydra Space. They are designed for satellite communication between radio amateurs via a 145/435 MHz transponder.
- SATTLA-2A & 2B, open source project developed by Ariel University in Israel. These 2p PocketQubes use WiFi cards for ultra-long-range connections, capable of transmitting video over 600km under LOS conditions.
- DELFI-PQ, a 3p PocketQube, developed in the Netherlands by TU Delft | Space technology. This satellite is a tech demo mission testing a LOFAR payload and a laser retroreflector.