NorthStar to Flip Axelspace Earth Observation Satellite for Space Situational Awareness

A rendering of congested orbits in space. Credit: NorthStar Earth & Space.

Even before NorthStar Earth & Space launches its own satellites, a new novel partnership with Japan’s Axelspace will see them collect space situational awareness (SSA) data from ‘flipped’ Earth Observation satellites.

Sometime this month the collaboration with Axelspace will start. But how will it work?

The concept is seemingly quite simple. As part of its AxelGlobe business unit which it started in 2015, Axelspace has a constellation of five Earth Observation satellites in low Earth orbit. As those satellite circle the Earth they will enter the “dark side of their orbits,” meaning when the sun sets and the portion of the Earth below is in night, the satellites will rotate, “flipping” themselves, facing away from the Earth and begin using their Earth Observation sensors to gather SSA data of objects they can see. As they continue in their orbit and the sun rises they once again flip themselves with their sensors now facing the Earth. And so the cycle continues during each orbit. Its an elegant solution for maximizing the use of Axelspace’s satellites.

Yuya Nakamura, the president and CEO of Axelspace added that “The AxelGlobe constellation is composed of Axelspace’s GRUS microsatellites. These are equipped with strong attitude control functionality to respond flexibly to diverse imaging needs. We were consequently able to meet NorthStar’s request to capture near-Earth space data by updating the onboard software of the satellites. I am very proud that the advanced capabilities of GRUS are utilized to monitor the orbital environment, a rapidly emerging need in today’s space sector, through close collaboration with NorthStar. Axelspace will continue to contribute actively to expanding the use of microsatellites through partnerships with innovative companies and organizations.”

In a press release Stewart Bain, Founder & CEO of NorthStar said “Sustainability of the space environment is in everyone’s interest. Making use of existing sensor data from AxelGlobe with NorthStar’s proprietary algorithms is an extremely efficient means to improve the quality of commercial SSA services available to operators. NorthStar’s ability to work with leading-edge companies such as Axelspace highlights our unique capabilities to combine data from ground and space sensors and emphasizes our commitment to work collaboratively to solve the most urgent environmental challenges in Space.”

About Marc Boucher

Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactive LLC. Boucher has 20+ years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 30 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.

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