Behind the recent success of NASA’s InSight Mission were unlikely heroes: two suitcase-sized CubeSats named MarCO A and MarCO B. These small satellites, nicknamed “EVE” and “WALL-E”, not only broke previous records for deep-space travel, but enabled a successful InSight landing as they relayed crucial information to the landing team via experimental radios and antennas. Providing up-to-the-minute feedback and photos to the Mars landing team via communication relay, the CubeSats stole the show and transformed the communication approach for future missions.
The CubeSat Revolution
The role of CubeSats in the success of InSight’s Mars landing underscores the remarkable growth of the CubeSat industry. Because of their relative affordability to develop and launch, small satellites are facilitating the “democratization of space”, enabling multiple industries to get in on the new space race.
John Thornhill of Financial Review explains how small satellites are expanding into new industries:
Farmers can use the imagery to estimate crop yields around the world, investors are counting the number of oil storage tanks in China and estimating consumption trends, while human rights campaigners have used it to map the flight of the Rohingya population from Myanmar. On a daily basis, we can now study the shrinkage of glaciers, the expansion of cities, the deforestation of remote wildernesses and the devastation of armed conflict in intense detail. (Thornhill, 2018)
Affordable, Accessible Space Simulation Testing
For the companies behind CubeSats, testing and validation of their satellite components is crucial to ensuring their equipment can withstand the extreme vacuum, pressure, and temperatures of space. Until now, custom, affordable space simulation systems were out of reach for many organizations. That is changing, however, with LACO’s ability to engineer quality space simulation systems that meet the precise needs and budget of most any organization.
"We’ve seen an explosion in requests for small thermal vacuum (TVAC) systems. What sets us apart is we have developed a TVAC platform that can be easily tailored in size and function to meet individual needs. We are continually innovating and improving our TVAC Space Simulation Platform to make the hardware as affordable, accessible and user friendly as possible. It’s our passion. It’s exciting to be a part of this growing industry." –Brad Neumann, Applications Engineer
Like this vacuum system (shown below) designed to test and calibrate the OTES instrument (OSIRIS-Rex Thermal Emission Spectrometer) for the OSIRIS-Rex mission to Bennu, we’ve helped many industries prepare for mission success through engineering custom space simulation systems.
Space Simulation Without Compromise
Our experience in engineering custom space simulation systems for large and small organizations both across a variety of industries has enabled us to develop a broad range of testing, processing, and validation, including:
- Flight readiness/reliability
- Calibration and testing evaluation
- Environmental simulation
- Low orbit, deep space, and custom environments
In order to achieve this degree of customization, we’ve engineered simulation systems that integrate components such as platens, shrouds, and chillers into an integrated thermal vacuum system. With automated, custom control through our HVC-3500 Thermal Vacuum Controller, you have the power to create the test recipes, temperatures, and pressures required to meet the most demanding space simulation tests. Together with our applications engineers, we can develop a system for your precise application, without compromising your application goals.
- Custom Vacuum Solutions
- Thermal Vacuum Systems for Space Simulation
- HVC-3500 Thermal Vacuum Controller
How can we help ensure flight success? Talk to us about the needs of your space-bound products such as micro and nano-satellites, CubeSats, camera systems, flight hardware, and other instrumentation. To view examples of our work in space simulation, see below.
Custom Solution | Space Simulation Thermal Cycling System for Satellites & Components
Custom Solution | Space Simulation Thermal Vacuum System for Spacecraft Imaging Systems
Custom Solution | Space Simulation Thermal Vacuum System for Satellite Components
Custom Solution | Space Simulation Thermal Vacuum System for Cubesats
Custom Solution | Thermal Vacuum System for Transportation Component Testing
Custom Solution | High Vacuum Bake-Out System for Satellites & Components
Custom Solution | Space Simulation Thermal Vacuum System for Research & Development
Custom Solution | Space Simulation Thermal Vacuum System for Spacecraft Cameras
Custom Solution | Space Simulation Vacuum System for Micro Satellite Testing
Thornhill, J. (2018, 02 28). How CubeSat satellites are changing the world (and your privacy). Retrieved 12 11, 2018, from Financial Review: https://www.afr.com/technology/how-cubesat-satellites-are-changing-the-world-and-your-privacy-20180220-h0wco
NASA CubeSats MarCo 1 and Marco 2 [Online image]. (1919). Retrieved December 13, 2018 from https://www.timesofisrael.com/nasa-launches-insight-spacecraft-to-mars-to-dig-down-deep/ The illustration shown in the header was made available by NASA on March 29, 2018. It shows the twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) spacecraft flying over Mars with Earth and the sun in the distance. The MarCOs will be the first CubeSats - a kind of modular, mini-satellite - flown into deep space. They're designed to fly along behind NASA's InSight lander on its cruise to Mars. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)