Our co-Founders Peter Diamandis and Eric Anderson often refer to this time in history as being “exponential”. This phrase is ringing true with our team this year, as we forge a path towards asteroid prospecting with two launches in 2015 of our technology demonstration spacecraft!
The first of these spacecraft launched successfully into space today. The Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) technology demonstration spacecraft is on board the SpaceX Falcon 9 that is on its way to the International Space Station (ISS) as a part of the CRS-6 crew resupply mission.
Once it reaches the ISS, A3R will be brought on board by the astronauts, and be put in a queue for launch from the Kibo air-lock into low-Earth Orbit tentatively in July 2015. A3R will also complete the mission of the first Arkyd 3 that we lost last year in the Antares explosion, by testing the subsystems we’ll need to venture out into the Solar System and prospect for valuable resources on asteroids.
During its 90 day Earth-orbiting mission, it will send back data on the health of its subsystems to our team at our headquarters in Redmond, WA, and complete its mission with a fiery re-entry into Earth’s atmosphere as a result of its natural atmospheric orbital-decay.
We’ve learned so much with A3 and A3R on the way to the launch pad and are extremely excited to continue to learn from its performance in Earth orbit!
Keeping with exponential theme of 2015, we are launching a 2nd spacecraft later this year, that will be twice the size and even more capable! In parallel with A3R we have been working on a line of robust Arkyd 6U ScienceCraft that we’ll use not only to test the scientific instruments and deep space technologies at the heart of our asteroid prospecting missions, but to also provide a platform that will allow others to fly their mission with our technology!
Arkyd 6 (A6), will be the first of these missions to launch, and we are contracted with Spaceflight Services, Inc. to launch in a rideshare configuration with Formosat-5, currently scheduled in December 2015. Built in compliance with the 6U CubeSat standard and designed to accommodate one of our UV, hyperspectral or MWIR instruments, it is a modular and cost-efficient spacecraft that we are making available for technologists and science investigators to further their own research, whether it be in Earth orbit or deep space. The precision pointing capability, high bandwidth communications, and flexible architecture of our ScienceCraft provides a robust platform for anyone conducting space research and development, without having to build their own space system.
We are a team of scientists and engineers who believe that lowering the barriers to the scientific exploration of space is an important step along the path to expanding humanity’s reach into the Solar System. With our ScienceCraft program, Planetary Resources is working with our science partners at every step of the discovery process, from proposal to publication, to maximize scientific return.
We look forward to many flights of the Arkyd series spacecraft, in Earth orbit, to asteroids, and wherever they can be of service.
Photos from the successful launch of the Arkyd 3 Reflight on a SpaceX Falcon 9 as a part of the CRS-6 mission from Cape Canaveral, FL:
(April 14th, 2015 – If you want to use photos, please attribute them to Planetary Resources.)