Bothell, Wash. -Based Tethers Unlimited says it will provide important communication and driving skills Southwest Research Institute in support of a NASA mission to investigate how the solar corona is stirring up the solar wind.
The software-defined SWIFT-XTS radio from Tethers Unlimited is used for the telemetry and control of the four suitcase-sized microsatellites that perform a mission called PUNCH (Polarimeter for unifying the corona and heliosphere). The company's HYDROS-C water electrolysis engine will serve as the satellite's propulsion system.
Last year, NASA selected the Southwest Research Institute, which has centers in Colorado and Texas. to lead the mission.
"Procuring these complete off-the-shelf spacecraft subsystems is critical to PUNCH science," said Craig DeForest, solar scientist at SwRI, who serves as the mission's primary researcher, in a press release today. "The growing commercial ecosystem for space enables the constellation of four separate high-performance spacecraft at the cost of a single traditional satellite."
The satellites will orbit the Earth in formation to investigate how the corona, which serves as the sun's outer atmosphere, provides the solar wind with mass and energy. The PUNCH satellites are scheduled to launch in 2022.
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Tethers Unlimited was founded in 1994 and specializes in space technologies ranging from propulsion and communication with small satellites to 3D printing and robotics for manufacturing in space.
The SWIFT-XTS radio is a compact S-band receiver that is coupled to a high-speed X-band transmitter and can be configured for a variety of mission requirements.
The HYDROS-C engine uses an integrated electrolysis system to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and then burns these propellants to generate thrust. The "green propellant" system is safe to use during preparations and could possibly be filled with moon water or near-Earth asteroids during future exploration missions.
The engines are used for orbital positioning and stationing for the PUNCH mission.
"Understanding how the sun drives the solar wind is critical to understanding how the sun affects space weather near Earth and the fundamental processes that create solar systems," said Rob Hoyt, President of Tethers Unlimited. "electric wire Unlimited is proud and excited to have the opportunity to bring in our unique communications and propulsion technologies so these tiny spaceships can accomplish such an important scientific mission. "
Last month, Amergint Technology Holdings was based in Colorado announced that it had acquired Tethers Unlimited, which will continue to operate as a subsidiary under the existing management of Bothell.