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A group of three nanosatellites that will fly on a controlled formation flying for the first time will be launched at the end of 2018. The project intends to prove that a group of satellites could sustain a controlled formation during a period of one year while flying at a 600 km altitude.

The satellites will receive signals from Earth and calculate the location of the emission source for purposes of search and rescue, detection and identification, remote sensing and environmental monitoring.

The size of each satellite is 10X20X30 cm, and their total weight reaches 8 kg. The satellites will carry measuring devices, antennas, computer systems, control systems and navigation equipment. The software and algorithms that will direct the flight were developed in the laboratory for distributed space systems at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.

According to the announcement by the Technion and the Israeli Space Agency at the Science Ministry, the cost of the development and launching of such satellites is much lower than with standard satellites. Networks of thousands of nanosatellites are expectged to appear in the near future.

All the unique components of the technology were developed in Israel: the propulsion sysem – by Rafael, is based on a crypton gas and would be the first of its kind in the world to fly a small satellite. The digital receiver was developed by Elta and the direction control system – by MABAT factory, IAI, in collaboration with the Technion researchers.  

In addition to the propulsion system, the satellites will gain energy through solar panels which will serve as wings that could control the format flying without the use of petrol, thanks to the atmosphere’s air resistance. Each nanosatellite will carry a digital signal receiver, which would be one of the most complex receivers designed for nanosatellites. The pioneering information processing system and algorithms that will control the format will support the autonomous operation of several satellites simultaneously.

The communication and navigation system will include two GPS receivers that will serve for an autonomous navigation. and communication systems that will enable communication among the three nanosatellites and with the ground station.  

The satellites will be launched by the Dutch company Innovative Solutions In Space, over the Indian PSLV launcher. The Adelis SAMSON project was developed by a research team led by Prof. Pini Gurfil, Head of Asher Space Research Institute from the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Faculty at the Technion, with the support of Adelis Foundation and the Israeli Space Agency.

“The miniaturization of satellites, alongside Israeli advanced technology, enable us to make an important step forward in Israeli nanosatellites”, explains Prof. Gurfil. “If we will be able to prove in the space experiment that the formation flying is possible, this will enhance the development of small satellites and miniaturization technologies, efficient processing in space and propulsion systems in space. The airborne technologies on the nanosatellites will contribute to a vast array of civilian applications and to the advancement of Israel’s space industry”.