DND Project Grey Jay will use the SFL Defiant Platform and Other new Details

Artist illustration of three microsatellites in formation. Credit: SpaceQ/Shutterstock/Space Flight Laboratory.

The Department of National Defence’s Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) has provided SpaceQ with additional details on Project Grey Jay.

Project Grey Jay will see three microsatellites built by the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) in Toronto. When the contract news was first announced it provided few in the way of details.

What we did know is that the three microsatellites would cost of $15M which includes the launch of the satellites. SFL partners in the project include A.U.G. Signals Ltd. and Space Strategies Consulting Ltd (SSCL).

A.U.G. Signals will develop data processing algorithms and software for the payloads and SSCL will be supporting military need/utility analysis and future planning.

Here are the additional details, some of which were provided by DRDC, while others come from SFL published abstracts.

  • The approximate sizes of the microsatellites is 30 cm x 30 cm x 45 cm.
  • The microsatellites will use the SFL Defiant platform.
  • The intent is for the three satellites to be launched all at once and be flown in formation, though that might change.
  • This project is expected to improve situational awareness for the Canadian Armed Forces and partners.

Defiant Platform (per SFL)

  • Spacecraft Mass: 20-30 kg
  • Spacecraft Volume: 30 x 30 x 40 cm
  • Peak Power 25ºC,BOL: 50 – 100 W
  • Payload Mass 6-10 kg
  • Payload Volume: 11,000 cm3
  • Payload Power @ duty cycle: 45 W @40% min., 65 W max.
  • ACS stability: ~2° ² ~10-60″ ³
  • Downlink: 32 kbsp – 50 Mbps
  • Propulsion: cold gas, resistojet, monopropulsion
  • Navigation: GPS, 5-10m
  • Launch Interface: Separation System

(2) With magnetometer, fine sun sensor and three reaction wheels.
(3) With star-tracker and three reaction wheels.

SFL Defiant platform
SFL Defiant platform. Credit: SFL.

SFL spoke about the Defiant Platform at the Canadian SmallSat Symposium in February of last year. Since it has been known for over a year that the DRDC would be moving forward with this project, the abstract from that presentation does provide some useful information about the platform.

The DEFIANT platform is a scalable satellite bus currently slated to accommodate a wide range of demanding missions. The platform possesses a core structure and set of avionics which form the basis of all configurations for the bus and is then capable of customization based upon the specific mission requirements. The prime form factor is a 300 x 300 x 400 mm (27U) quadrangular platform massing a total of 20-30 kg including a 5-10 kg payload allocation. Contained within the core avionics are a full suite of modular power electronics, a set of cross-strapped computers for housekeeping, attitude control, and payload management, a mission adaptable set of radios (UHF, VHF, S-Band, X-Band, and more), a centrally mounted propulsion system, and a full set of attitude control sensors and actuators.

Conceptualized to serve for several new missions which require multiple satellites to be designed, constructed, and launched as a fleet, DEFIANT prioritizes modularity and accessibility. This places additional difficulties and complications to a normally very delicate task. The DEFIANT bus possesses salient features making it ideal for parallel multi-satellite assembly and management, as well as a compartmentalized approach allowing for inter-mission compatibility and late stage component replacement. In addition, the material selection is kept to mainline alloys allowing for rapid procurement and manufacturing. Finally, the bus is designed for future-proofing by integrating next generation expandability into the system such as deployable solar arrays, a wide range of antenna mountings, and room to grow the power and processing capabilities. In order to accommodate the largest breadth of missions, the separation system can be mounted on different faces allowing for varied launch configurations. This paper will examine the capabilities of DEFIANT and potential applications.

Clearly Project Grey Jay fits will within the Defiant platform with the available information we have. As well, the platform is designed to be mass-produced. This opens up the possibility for future Department of National Defence projects based on the platform, should this project succeed.

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About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 27 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.