In December, a SpaceX rocket will launch with a satellite approximately the thickness of a cherry for deployment via Nanoracks Europe from the International Space Station (ISS). It will be one of the smallest trackable objects ever deployed directly from the Station.
The satellite, a CubeSat named FEES2, was developed by the Italian company GP Advanced Projects. Standard CubeSats measure 1U, or 10 cm x 10 cm x 10cm, and other models can reach 2U, 3U or 6U. FEES2, however, rounds out at a miniscule 0.3U, setting a record as the first satellite of its size.
FEES2, which stands for Flexible Experimental Embedded Satellite-2, is a platform for demonstrating and validating CubeSat technology in orbit. The mission will test critical satellite components, such as GPS receivers and attitude control systems, that have specifically been designed for miniaturized experiments.
“The ISS has been a sort of booster for our company’s growth,” said Guido Parissenti, CEO and co-founder of GP Advanced Projects. “Thanks to this deployment opportunity, which we contracted just five months ago, we will reach a major milestone towards the building of the first Italian nanosatellite constellation for IoT [Internet of Things], which is our long-term goal.”
In June 2021, GP Advanced Projects selected Nanoracks Europe for the integration services, launch brokerage, and deployment of FEES2. To obtain approval from NASA, Nanoracks performed a feasibility study to verify the satellite’s trackability and quantify its deployment parameters.
“We were excited that GP Advanced Projects entrusted Nanoracks to get the job done,” said Adriana Aiello, Systems Engineer for Nanoracks Europe. “Of course, we were going to make this happen for GP Advanced Projects – this is our specialty. Our customers’ needs challenge us to be innovators and disruptors and we’re proud to bring a new customer and new technology to the Space Station.”
CubeSats, first invented in 1999, are a low-cost, accessible way for players to get involved in space research. They typically apply to educational, scientific and commercial purposes.
GP Advanced Projects launched its first FEES CubeSat in March. Next month’s deployment will be the second. The company is developing PiCo, a satellite constellation dedicated to IoT data retrieval, especially in the agriculture, oil, gas and wildlife industries.
“This is an absolutely exciting opportunity for Nanoracks Europe to make a difference in enabling wider access to space in our community,” said Nanoracks Europe’s CEO, Veronica La Regina. “Nanoracks’ passion for opening space access is one of our greatest assets, and this mission proves to be yet another example of the tenacity for making new things happen.”