Space Flight Laboratory highlights 20 years of microspace achievements at U.S. and Canadian Small S

Space Flight Laboratory (SFL), a provider of complete microspace missions, will celebrate 20 years in business by showcasing its nanosatellite and microsatellite successes next month at the 2018 SmallSat Symposium in Silicon Valley and CSCA Canadian Small Satellite Symposium in Toronto.

SFL will exhibit in booth 17 at the Silicon Valley event being held February 5-8 and in booths 10-12 at the Canadian symposium February 13-15. Additionally, SFL Director Dr. Robert E. Zee will present “Perspective on 20 Years of Small Mission Breakthroughs at SFL” at the Toronto conference, which is sponsored by the Canadian Space Commerce Association.

“For two decades, SFL has been delivering big returns for our clients by developing smaller satellites on tight schedules at a fraction of the cost of larger satellites,” said Dr. Zee. “Our missions have successfully carried out Earth observation, RF communications, atmospheric sensing and other applications traditionally performed by larger satellites.”

Established in 1998 as a self-sustaining specialty lab at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS), SFL offers end-to-end microspace services from concept design and development to launch and operations. In the past 20 years, SFL has developed and launched 22 nano- and micro-class satellites that have achieved 78+ cumulative years in orbit. Eleven new satellites are now under development at the SFL facility in Toronto.

From its first microsatellite, the Canadian MOST space telescope launched in 2003, SFL has designed and built entirely new hardware and software technologies customized to the unique requirements of smaller satellites. These breakthroughs include advanced attitude control for precise pointing and tracking, modular power systems for multiple spacecraft sizes, and cold/warm gas propulsion systems tailored to sub-100kg platforms.

“The technological advancements developed at SFL have opened the door for nanosatellites and microsatellites to perform complex missions that are also extremely cost effective,” said Zee.

Other small satellite milestones that SFL will highlight at the upcoming conferences include the following:

NorSat-1 and -2 microsatellites launched by Norway achieved significant improvements in maritime ship monitoring shortly after their 2017 launch, resulting in SFL being awarded the development contract for NorSat-3 in 2018.

CanX-7 nanosatellite, launched in 2016, successfully demonstrated aircraft tracking followed by drag sail deployment for orbital debris mitigation.

GHGSat-D microsatellite launched in 2017 by GHGSat Inc. to demonstrate that point sources of greenhouse gas emissions on Earth could be detected from orbit, leading to SFL being contracted to develop GHGSat-C1 and -C2 for commercial operations.

CanX-4 and -5 nanosatellites launched by Canada in 2014 became the first satellites of their size and ultra-low cost to achieve precise, autonomous formation flight with centimeter-level knowledge and sub-meter level control accuracy in low Earth orbit.


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