Finnish company Aurora Propulsion Technologies will be sending a CubeSat to space for the first time in the last quarter of this year. According to TechCrunch, they had signed with Rocket Lab, a leading launch provider and space systems company, to send AuroraSat-1 CubeSat into low Earth orbit aboard an Electron rocket mission.
Aurora is a startup company that emerged in the past few years to provide technology that could help solve humanity's problems with space junk.
AuroraSat-1 CubeSat Will Help Solve Space Junk in Low Earth Orbit
The Department of Defense has tracked 27,000 pieces of space junk, orbital debris from the human-generated objects in space that no longer works, through its Space Surveillance Network. However, it is believed that there could be millions of them floating in low Earth orbit.
Their number is expected to increase in the coming years as costs of launch and other technology continue to decline. That means more space junk will float around the low Earth orbit in the long term.
Rocket Lab's Electron will launch AuroraSat-1 later this year from LC1.— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) August 16, 2021
The satellite will test sustainable and space junk removal technologies including water-based propulsion jets and plasma brakes.
Release: https://t.co/Nk26mlUKce pic.twitter.com/pnlis9TCL8
AuroraSat-1 is a new technology by the Finnish company that aims to help solve this problem. It will demonstrate during its orbital test systems designed to help operators maintain control of small satellites and bring them down to Earth.
The CubeSat will have two modules, wherein the first one will contain six "resistojet" thrusters that are designed to de-tumble and adjust altitude control of the CubeSat. It also has Plasma Brakes that use electrically charged microtheter to generate drag for de-orbiting the satellite.
AuroraSat-1 CubeSat to Fly Atop Rocket Lab Electron Booster
As reported by Space.com, AuroraSat-1 will be launched atop Rocket Lab Electron booster from its launch site in New Zealand, particularly from North Island's Mahia Peninsula.
There was no target date announced, and the terms of the launch were also not disclosed. But Rocket Lab announced that there are four more Electron booster missions before AuroarSat-1.
Three are planned between August and September, which will be launched into orbit for geospatial intelligence company BlackSky Global. Meanwhile, Space.com previously reported that the fourth one would send Cislunar Autonomous Positioning System Technology Operations and Navigation Experiment (CAPSTONE) for NASA.
CAPSTONE CubeSat will be sent to the lunar orbit aboard the Photon satellite bus of Rocket Lab, a new offering of the company that will fly for the company's future launches.
According to Business Wire, the AuroraSat-1 CubeSat launch agreement and the four satellites are not the only ones scheduled to be launched onboard Rocket Lab's Electron booster.
It will also launch the first-ever wooden cube satellite, called WISA Woodsat, developed by Finnish company Arctic Astronautics. As previously reported by Science Times, the company will test how plywood could withstand the environment in space, opening opportunities for building and launching satellites at a cheaper rate.
Check out more news and information on the CubeSat in Science Times.