Demonstration missions to test the new “space tag” continue to flatfish

Vigoride-3 artist concept.

Vigoride-3 artist concept.
image: Momentum

California-based Momentus is currently conducting the first tests of a track-moving vehicle known as the Vigoride-3, but the 180-day demo mission is off to a good start.

According to the latest Momentus, the Vigoride-3 orbit transfer vehicle in space since late May has been operating at low power and may not be able to deploy any more satellites in low orbit. update.. The solar array folded for launch could not be opened, causing current power and communication issues with the Vigoride-3. The possibility that the communication frequency was misconfigured before the launch does not solve the problem.

Known as the “Space Tag,” the Vigoride spacecraft is designed to carry small satellites and deploy them in specific orbital positions. Once in orbit, Vigoride uses innovative thrusters to steer the universe. As the company spokesperson confirmed in an email, during the course of this 180-day mission, we will deploy nine payloads to multiple customers. In addition, Momentus wanted to test Vigoride’s microwave electric heating thrusters, which use water as a propellant, which is currently being questioned.

“We continue to strive to address the anomaly, but the level of confidence that we can deploy additional customer satellites from Vigoride and perform planned operations on the vehicle in this test and demonstration mission is significantly reduced. We did, “the company said.

Vigorde-3 was launched as a paid participant in SpaceX Transporter 5 The mission used the Falcon 9 rocket to send dozens of payloads into low earth orbit. This was SpaceX’s fifth dedicated small satellite rideshare mission. It was launched from the Canaveral Space Force Base in Florida on May 25.

Vigoride’s mission began to decline almost immediately. According to the latest information from Momentus, the deployable solar array folded for launch “did not work as intended once in orbit,” carefully states that the solar array was developed by a third party. I am. The solar panels attached to the spacecraft’s body are working, but a malfunction in the solar array caused Vigoride’s power and communication problems.

“We are working closely with a third party manufacturer of solar arrays and working with that company to identify what we believe is the root cause of the array not working as intended. “We did,” said the company’s press release. “Although further analysis continues, we believe we have identified the possible root causes of other anomalies.”

The controller is currently using unplanned frequencies to maintain communication with the spacecraft. Momentus had to contact the Federal Communications Commission to apply for special Temporary Authority (STA) and receive 30-day STA approval on June 9. The system was not configured correctly, according to To SpaceNews. Early in the mission, ground controllers were able to establish two-way communication with Vigoride, but stopped because it was likely the result of low power conditions, Momentus said.

“During the first launch of this Vigoride vehicle into space, we learned a lot and plan to incorporate improvements into other Vigoride vehicles that are currently being assembled and tested on the ground. It was the main purpose of this first Vigoride mission, “Momentus CEO John Rood said in a statement. “As mentioned before the launch, we experienced challenges during this test and demonstration mission and were completely hoping to learn from them. That’s what we’re doing.” He added: “The universe is a notorious and relentless environment.”

On the day of launch, Momentus deployed five satellites using the second port of Falcon 9 and deployed it on May 28. I managed to deploy two satellites From Vigoride itself. The company then attempted to deploy the remaining seven satellites, but could not see anything other than the first batch.

Despite these setbacks, Momentus maintains its launch schedule from this year to 2023. This includes the SpaceX Transporter 6 Ride Share mission, which is currently scheduled for launch in November 2022.

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