Slingshot 1 is one of seven satellites aboard the mission Straight Up by Virgin Orbit National Systems.
Slingshot 1 is a 12-unit CubeSat, about the size of a shoebox, that fast-tracks the development of modular and autonomous technologies by leveraging the potential for open standards and non-proprietary interfaces to simplify and expedite payload development and integration.
“We are seeing unprecedented growth in the space industry at large, driven by an unprecedented need for novel space capabilities,” said Steve Isakowitz, Aerospace president and CEO. “Modular and autonomous technologies enable the agility and speed needed to harness these latest innovations and deliver resilient systems on accelerated timelines. Slingshot’s modular platform is a critical step toward advancing and testing these important technologies that are blazing a trail for future development.”
Slingshot 1 hosts 19 payloads: 16 were developed by Aerospace, including Vertigo, a reconfigurable attitude control system that enables satellites to find targets on Earth; Blinker, a GPS transponder for space traffic management; HyPer, a hydrogen peroxide thruster delivering high performance for small satellites; and LaserComm, a next-generation space-to-ground laser communication downlink.
“Customization has traditionally played a major role in payload development and turnaround time,” said Hannah Weiher, engineering manager in Aerospace’s iLab and program manager for Slingshot. “With Slingshot, payloads conform to a basic standard where they can plug in and work even if they’re late in the development timeline.”
Handle, the key payload on Slingshot 1, rapidly integrates payloads through a standard interface and works to expedite the satellite development timeline. Similar to a USB port, the payload uses “plug and play” technology, enabling other payloads to efficiently communicate with the host satellite bus.
Additionally, Handle contains SatCat5, an Ethernet switch, that allows communication between payloads using commercial tools and open-source code from the extensive Ethernet ecosystem. SatCat5 supports high-speed and low-speed data rates, allowing for most devices to participate in the same local communication network.
The integration of these payloads through a standard interface enables a broad range of technologies to plug together with greater flexibility and adaptability.
About The Aerospace Corporation
The Aerospace Corporation is a national nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center and has more than 4,841 employees. With major locations in El Segundo, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and the Washington, D.C. region, Aerospace addresses complex problems across the space enterprise and other areas of national and international significance through agility, innovation, and objective technical leadership. For more information, visit www.aerospace.org. Follow us on Twitter: @AerospaceCorp.