On May 25, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 carrier into a sun-synchronous orbit. It will carry a satellite designed by the Luxembourg company Space Products and Innovation (SPiN), which has developed an adapter to facilitate satellite construction. The idea is to make it easier and cheaper to launch objects into space.
However, this is an aspect taken by the aerospace industry, whose players have tried to lower prices and prevent entry. SpaceX currently charges 1, 1,200 per pound (2,470 euros per kilo) for sending an object into orbit. This may seem expensive, but only a fraction of what NASA charges: বই 30,000 per book.
But even though the price of payload has come down, the cost of building a satellite is much higher. This is the problem that SPiN, a Luxembourg start-up, hopes to solve
In 2014, Ran Kedar, the future co-founder and CEO of SPiN, was involved in building a satellite system as part of his university studies. It took him three months to design the complex algorithms needed for advanced navigation and control, namely software. And another whole year to integrate this software into the satellite.
“We discovered that there is no operating system for satellites like Windows or Linux,” he explained. “It simply came to our notice then. We can’t afford to crash Windows into space, or complicate things with the open source parts of Linux that we don’t know everything about.
As a result, most companies have designed these systems from scratch and are still designing, a time consuming and expensive process.
Run Kedar, however, found a video in 2008 where the U.S. Air Force did the work of assembling software and a satellite in 2008, in an incredibly short time of four hours. It inspired him, but it turned out that a few years of design and a huge amount of money went into making this hookup moment possible.
“We were thinking about how to achieve the same result without spending a billion dollars and to test everything, to qualify and send it into space to make sure it works,” he explained. “This is where we decided to make an adapter.”
Ran Kedar and his colleagues moved to Luxembourg because of the space sector. “We believe that Luxembourg has the highest concentration of space start-ups.”
Risk free software
The CEO compares the SPiN adapter to a plug converter that you can take on a trip abroad. According to the hardware, it has more than 25 different ports and eight interfaces. On the software side, the product’s communication layer “communicates” with the hardware in the same way that an operating system like Windows communicates with a computer.
“But the difference is,” he said. “We had to design risk-free software. We measure time in microseconds. Any delay in flying a satellite at 27,000 km / h is a big problem.”
Another priority was to make the system highly configurable so that new protocols could be added without software updates.
Three years after winning a start-up competition in Bremen, SPiN made its first sale in 2018. The team participated in the Luxembourg Fit4Start program in 2021, aiming to build a satellite using its own adapter, both as a “proof of concept” and to prove its potential to potential customers.
The satellite, called SPiN-1 and combined in just four hours, will be launched on May 25 by a SpaceX rocket.
Ultimately, according to Ran Kedar, the company’s goal is to be able to assemble or already own satellites using the necessary components and technology “and this is the kind of idea through which someone builds some Satellite like Lagos”.
He estimates that access to space for business will be even wider in about two years.
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Translated and edited by Paperjam in English, French.