ABOUT THE CLIENT’S COMPANY:
A data science company in stealth mode (*let’s call them “Space Ninja” for now) came to us with a complex Earth Observation mission for the agri-tech sector and climate change research. They had already made a subscale validation and had planned a bigger commercial mission with the goal of being operational within 36 months.
The company recently launched an orbital tech demo of their new instrument—an infrared camera. They are aiming to launch the first satellite in their constellation at the end of 2023.
Getting an infrared sensor to the operational state ideally requires multiple in-orbit demonstrations. They are used to precisely record temperatures, but the data can be polluted by heat from the instrument itself, and from the satellite. Several complex solutions to this problem include inefficient radiators and sun shields like the one used on the James Webb Telescope, but getting these subsystems to work takes a lot of engineering time.
Space Ninja’s specific challenge was moving from a subscale in-orbit demonstration to a fully developed small satellite. The thing is, in order to achieve mission success, a vast number of subsystems need to be integrated for the first time, and they should all work perfectly together.
• The client had limited time, a successful subscale technical demonstration, and a planned large mission with a very big risk profile of individual subsystems.
• The mission budget is over $10 million, and Space Ninja needed to mitigate the risks of validating all of these subsystems without wasting time or money.
The idea was to study the mission feasibility of an intermediate testing mission. This would allow them to check technology not used in the demo mission and fine-tune it for the expensive 200 kg satellite. But even testing the feasibility of such an intermediate mission takes hundreds of hours, and is very complex because of the unpredictable lead times for different suppliers.
They came to Precious Payload with a task to find out if they can afford to squeeze this mission into their timeline, between the tech demo and the big satellite launch.
We drastically reduced the number of engineering hours for the mission
Our proprietary software gave the team precise options for completing the mission within budget and on time
We consolidated communications and finished the research in record time