Planetary Resources declares ‘mission success’ for Arkyd-6
The technology demonstration spacecraft Arkyd-6, built by Planetary Resources to test technologies for future asteroid prospecting, has completed all of its mission requirements, the company said April 24, 2018.
Launched on Jan. 12, 2018, atop an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle with 30 other satellites, the 22-pound (10-kilogram) Arkyd-6 was designed as a technology demonstrator for future missions to explore and categorize asteroids for eventual resource mining.
Arkyd-6 is a six-unit CubeSat. A single “unit” measures four inches (10 centimeters) on each side. A 6U CubeSat is three units tall and 2 units wide. Additionally, the Arkyd spacecraft has solar panels that extend to about eight inches (20 centimeters) on its sides.
“In the weeks following launch, the team worked tirelessly in Redmond managing the mission,” said Planetary Resources President and CEO Chris Lewicki in a statement. “Even though the spacecraft was fully autonomous and able to execute all functions independently, it communicated with our team at every critical check point.
The company said the spacecraft successfully deployed its solar panels, demonstrated using its attitude control, distributed computing systems, communications systems, and its Mid-Wavelength Infrared (MWIR) imager.
Planetary Resources said the MWIR is the first commercial imager of its kind in space. It is capable of detecting water and other resources on Earth, but the company hopes to use the technology to locate water and minerals on asteroids for potential mining.
To follow-up on its success with Arkyd-6, Planetary Resources said it plans to launch another series of spacecraft called Arkyd-301. The company hopes to launch several of these small satellites in 2020 and to send them to different near-Earth asteroids.
Once the spacecraft reach their targets, they are designed to look for water and exploitable minerals with the company’s MWIR technology and even test samples of the asteroids to confirm their findings. All of this is in preparation for the eventual mining of these asteroids by Planetary Resources.
Christopher Paul has had a lifelong interest in spaceflight. He began writing about his interest in the Florida Tech Crimson. His primary areas of interest are in historical space systems and present and past planetary exploration missions. He lives in Kissimmee, Florida, and also enjoys cooking and photography. Paul saw his first Space Shuttle launch in 2005 when he moved to central Florida to attend classes at the Florida Institute of Technology, studying space science, and has closely followed the space program since. Paul is especially interested in the renewed effort to land crewed missions on the Moon and to establish a permanent human presence there. He has covered several launches from NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral for space blogs before joining SpaceFlight Insider in mid-2017.