October 11, 2021, 10:00 AM Mountain Daylight Time
LAFAYETTE, Colo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, announced the successful launch and commissioning of the TROPICS, or Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats, Pathfinder spacecraft in partnership with NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Lincoln Laboratory.
MIT-LL developed the innovative instrument, the sensing technique and managed the mission architecture and implementation. MIT-LL subcontracted BCT to design and manufacture the vehicle. The design utilizes an advanced dual star tracker-based CubeSat, upgraded with mission-specific capabilities to create a state-of-the-art science observatory.
The Pathfinder satellite provided images and data of Hurricane Ida before and after landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 28 and 29, 2021. According to NASA, imagery captured detailed storm structure with a well-defined eyewall of inner and outer rainbands. The outer bands are associated with tornadoes at landfall and are important to observe accurately. Originally planned to be a qualification unit, MIT-LL and NASA selected to fly the Pathfinder as a risk reduction mission to gather performance data ahead of the upcoming TROPICS flight constellation mission.
“With the Pathfinder’s proven capabilities, we now have the experience and data to know how the TROPICS constellation will perform on orbit,” said Stephen Steg, CEO of Blue Canyon Technologies. “We look forward to continued efficiency in the mission ahead and being the first to use a constellation of CubeSats for high-revisit microwave observations of weather.”
Pathfinder launched on June 30, 2021, with the first contact made on July 1, 2021. Bus commissioning was completed on Aug. 13, 2021. The TROPICS Pathfinder spacecraft flew in a sun-safe and power positive auto-pilot mode during early deployment and commissioning. TROPICS’ constellation mission is scheduled to be deployed in a series of three launches between Jan. 8 and July 31, 2022. The mission’s objective is to provide high-revisit microwave observations of precipitation, temperature and humidity over tropical regions and help assess impacts on a storm’s track and intensity.
BCT is building the constellation of six total 3U CubeSats that will launch in pairs. This advanced 3U CubeSat uses two of BCT’s 2-arcsec star trackers for excellent pointing control. It is equipped with an oversized reaction wheel to manage momentum from the spinning radiometer payload. The vehicle also features a first-of-its-kind sun-tracking solar array and a near-zero disturbance payload spin motor while accommodating a third-party radio.
About Blue Canyon Technologies
Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, offers a diverse portfolio of innovative, reliable and affordable spacecraft that enable a broad range of missions and technological advancements. BCT’s mission is to enable space missions to expand the frontiers of science and defense. BCT is currently supporting nearly 50 unique missions with over 90 spacecraft, all in production or recently delivered at their newly developed 80,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette, Colorado.
BCT has supported missions for the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and provided the Attitude Control Systems for the first interplanetary CubeSats, which successfully traveled to Mars. The company has been recognized with awards from Inc. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies, the 2020 Best in Biz Award and the 2020 Tibbetts Award.
For the latest news on Blue Canyon Technologies and for other company information, please visit www.bluecanyontech.com. You can follow the company on Instagram here or Twitter here.
About Raytheon Intelligence & Space
Raytheon Intelligence & Space delivers the disruptive technologies our customers need to succeed in any domain, against any challenge. A developer of advanced sensors, training, and cyber and software solutions, Raytheon Intelligence & Space provides a decisive advantage to civil, military and commercial customers in more than 46 countries around the world. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the business generated $15 billion in pro forma annual revenue in 2020 and has 37,000 employees worldwide. Raytheon Intelligence & Space is one of four businesses that form Raytheon Technologies Corporation.
Natalie Miller, 714-496-0839