Lift Me Off one of the winners of the Open Cosmos, ESA Space Solutions and ESA Business Applications “Call to Orbit” Competition
Harwell, 27 January 2020– Modern development of small satellites and low-cost launchers is enabling new business models and applications at a fraction of the cost of only a few years ago. Small space systems offer capabilities that match their much larger predecessors, although there are still some limitations. One of the most limiting factors in small satellites is the fact that they generally do not carry propulsion systems. This means that orbital manoeuvres to extend mission life or to quickly deorbit the system at end of life, in line with orbital debris mitigation regulations, are impossible.
Several initiatives are in development to remove this limitation, with a lot of developments focusing on electric propulsion (EP). However, most of these systems need a lot of power and offer low thrust. They need extensive amounts of time firing to provide enough thrust for large orbit changes or de-orbiting. In discussion with various cubesat providers, new company Lift Me Off (LMO) has identified a need for a low power, high propulsive system, which is able to perform efficient and quick orbit transfer manoeuvres.
With a focus on the small satellite market, LMO has designed a chemical propulsion subsystem for a 12U satellite. To validate the design, bring it to the right maturity and ensure it works as expected, LMO applied for the Open Cosmos, ESA Business Applications and ESA Space Solutions Call to Orbit programme. This first technology is a first steppingstone for LMO in its development of propulsion and AI technologies to enable the servicing market for a more sustainable use of space.
Through the Call to Orbit programme LMO will be able to further define and test the mechanical, thermal and electrical interfaces of their system. In the project they will look at the interaction of the propulsion unit with other satellite subsystems, while working with Open Cosmos on further improving mission planning and operations.
At the end of the project LMO hopes to have a design which is fully compatible with the Open Cosmos 12U satellite bus on all interfaces and which is ready for an in-orbit demonstration mission in the beginning of 2021.
LMO was selected as one of ten exclusive winners of the Call to Orbit programme, providing it with valuable space mission expertise by Open Cosmos, including mission software and access to satellite payload integration and test hardware, plus knowledge, advice, and introduction to a valuable network to commercialise their idea via the European Space Agency.
By being part of the Call to Orbit programme, LMO will be able to expedite its research and testing, and start designing a test mission in space, on the versatile and easy-to-use Open Cosmos integration platforms. This partnership with a satellite manufacturer and operator allows them to test their concepts with flight-ready hardware.
Michel Poucet, CEO of LMO said: “LMO is honoured to have been selected by Open Cosmos and ESA for the Call to Orbit programme. Working with an innovative company like Open Cosmos will enable LMO to accelerate towards its objectives. This programme paves the way towards LMO’s cost effective in-orbit transportation services for a more sustainable space market”
Rafel Jordá Siquier, founder and CEO of Open Cosmos said: “Open Cosmos is very excited to work with LMO on the technical frontier of propulsion systems. Systems like these will enable longer missions and faster de-orbiting of small satellites, significantly enhancing mission effectiveness and mitigating the increasing problem of space debris in busy constellation orbits.”
Frank M. Salzgeber of ESA Business Applications and ESA Space Solutions added: “Space has become the backbone of the digital economy. For this reason we look for new ideas and breakthroughs. Call To Orbit is a great tool to find this!”
About Call to Orbit
Run by Open Cosmos in collaboration with ESA, the Call to Orbit competition will allow a diverse range of organisations to put their technologies and service-oriented applications into orbit. It will reduce the amount of time and money needed to get a satellite-based business off the ground, especially for companies developing new technologies or validating the commercial potential of a new application.
In total 10 winners will be awarded access to Open Cosmos’ orbit readiness program for free, alongside support from ESA, allowing them to go from concept to orbit readiness in just three months using Open Cosmos innovative space mission design software and payload development, test and qualification kits.
Once ready, launch opportunities will become available both under ESA programmes and others, where Open Cosmos is involved providing in orbit demonstration and validation services, taking advantage of Open Cosmos’ beeOrbital service. This will be supported under the partnership with the ESA Pioneer SAPION program.
Do you have a great idea for the next big thing in space technology or the next space data killer app that will benefit from being tested in space, then apply now! The program can be found at www.open-cosmos.com/call-to-orbit