Team Phoenicia, Tyvak Nano-satellite Systems LLC and California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo Team for the Google Lunar X PRIZE and Interplanetary Launch Opportunities
Menlo Park, CA, (July 25, 2012) Team Phoenicia announced today they have teamed up with Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC and Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) to work on lunar and interplanetary small satellite and CubeSat launch opportunities. This teaming arrangement covers collaboration on the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE; collaboration on future interplanetary and lunar nanosat Launches; and tapping into each other's knowledge bases for both the competition flights and beyond.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE, the largest incentivized competition offered to date, challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. The Google Lunar X PRIZE is one of three active competitions from the X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization for creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions.
The single biggest hurdle for any team in the Google Lunar X PRIZE is getting to the Moon. Any launch for any single team is a difficult financial hurdle. Team Phoenicia originally approached Cal Poly and Tyvak about the prospect of collaborating on the Google Lunar X PRIZE. The discussion was based on the premise that Team Phoenicia would have excess launch capacity on their lunar missions and Cal Poly/Tyvak would utilize this excess capacity for NanoSat and CubeSat interplanetary or lunar missions. This would offset the total cost of any launch that Team Phoenicia would contract for, even ones beyond the X PRIZE competition.
From this starting point and given the exciting state of development for interplanetary CubeSats, Team Phoenicia, and Cal Poly, and Tyvak forged a deeper relationship. Cal Poly and Tyvak will integrate its CubeSat launchers - Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (P-POD) in 1U, 3U, and larger NanoSat form factors - with the Phoenicia Lunar Payload Delivery Rack (aka the Legion System) designed for use on the internal structure of the EELV Secondary Payload Adaptor (ESPA ring). A version of which is optimized for use on the Adaptive Launch Solutions Aquila System.
All Team Phoenicia flights will offer P-POD slots to the small satellite community through Cal Poly and Tyvak. This exciting element enables NanoSats/CubeSats to be deployed outside of low earth orbit and into interplanetary space. The first studies of "interplanetary NanoSats" are being conducted by several NASA research centers, the Jet Propulsion Lab, and several universities.
Interplanetary NanoSats are envisioned as CubeSat sized space probes that ply the space between the planets. These would utilize upgraded CubeSat technologies and projected to cost between $5 million to $10 million. Proposed missions include asteroid rendezvous, comet inspections and even sample returns from the Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos.
By teaming on launches and technology development, Cal Poly, Tyvak, and Team Phoenicia will be offering the first launch opportunities dedicated to interplanetary NanoSats.
In the 1990s, NASA instituted the Discovery Program. This produced a renaissance in planetary science by successfully conducting over ten missions in fifteen years rather than one or two flagship missions like before. With interplanetary NanoSats coming to fruition, NASA could have hundreds of missions out plying the asteroids, comets and orbiting the Moon, Mars and other bodies simultaneously for the same time frame. With this far lower cost, universities could potentially fly their own probes as part of a normal planetary science research program.
"Team Phoenicia is beyond excited about the prospect of flying the first interplanetary NanoSats. Not only will we be conducting the first soft landing on the Moon since 1976, we will be helping to spark a revolution in space probes. We are deeply honored by Cal Poly and Tyvak teaming with us on this great endeavor."
"This partnership with Team Phoenicia brings an incredibly unique opportunity to the CubeSat community. Only a few months ago, the first interplanetary CubeSat workshop was held at MIT. At the workshop representatives from academia, industry and government met to discuss new and exciting interplanetary missions that can be implemented using CubeSats. Together we hope to utilize this excess launch capacity to bring these missions to reality," said Coelho.
"Team Phoenicia has always felt that the Google Lunar X PRIZE is not just about getting to the Moon, but fostering the NewSpace business ecology. Here with Tyvak and Cal Poly, we have developed another ecological link, a very productive one that will allow academia, NASA and others in the nanosat industry to tie into NewSpace technological diversity," said Baird.
"The CubeSat community has always pushed the boundaries of technology development and has worked hard to provide access to space to new players in the space business. This partnership is a great example of this New Space movement and we're excited to be a part of it with Team Phoenicia," said Puig-Suari.
"Team Phoenicia is very excited to be working with both Cal Poly and Tyvak. With their help, we are making significant progress on the goals of the Google Lunar X PRIZE, both getting to the Moon and developing the Final Frontier," Baird said.
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