January 10, 2018

Countdown to the Arkyd-6 launch & its first few hours in space

Our Arkyd-6 spacecraft will be riding as a secondary payload onboard the Indian Space Research Organization’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The PSLV will launch from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Southern India.

About a half hour after the PSLV takes off, the fourth stage of the rocket will deploy Arkyd-6 into its target orbit. About 30 minutes after separation from the launch vehicle, Arkyd-6 will enable its communication system and start turning the solar panels towards the Sun to begin generating power. Arkyd-6 is entering a Sun-synchronous polar orbit around Earth. This means that the spacecraft is in an orbit that travels more North to South, rather than in an equatorial orbit that travels more West to East.

Arkyd-6 was designed to be autonomous in flight. In addition to some automated activities that will occur just after separating from the launch vehicle, the spacecraft was designed to complete all its critical functions such as attitude orientation towards the sun, power generation, and communication of critical data without ground intervention. Additionally, once we’ve commissioned Arkyd-6’s high-powered computer, the spacecraft will know its location over Earth and when an upcoming communication pass will occur so that it may automatically point its antenna to the ground station.

In our Mission Operations Center, we will be planning activities for our upcoming passes, executing those passes from our ground station, and reviewing spacecraft telemetry. During a pass, we will prescribe a set of commands to be transmitted to the spacecraft to accomplish specific actions such as uplinking communication windows, turning the spacecraft to a specific attitude, or downlinking the next mid-wave infrared image.

I’m really excited to get Arkyd-6 in space and to receive its first mid-wave infrared image.


Eric Blood
Arkyd-6 Project Lead
Planetary Resources