LICIACUBE: NASA chooses an Argotec’s SmallSat!
LICIACube (Light Italian Cubesat for Imaging of Asteroids) is the name of the project coordinated by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) for the development of a SmallSat built in the Argotec’ laboratories in Turin. This satellite was selected by NASA in order to take part in its mission DART (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) expected in 2021.
The DART mission wants to verify the possibility to change the orbit of the moonlet (called Didymoon) in binary asteroid Didymos with a kinetic impact of the NASA satellite at a velocity of 21.000 km/s and a distance from the Earth of 10 milion of kilometers.
After traveling 16 months onboard the DART satellite, LICIACube, the Italian cubesat, will be release in order to monitor all effects of the impact: the crater and the evolution of the debris produced by the collision. All data acquired during this phase of the mission will be very important to verify the efficacy of the impact.
It will be the first Italian mission destined for a target so far away. In order to deal with this unique mission, the Argotec platform will use an autonomous navigation system, an integrated propulsion system, a strong camera and an advanced on-board computer.
“We are so honoured that the NASA and the Italian Space Agency have chosen our platform Hawk-6 to take part in a mission so ambitious. The same cubesat was developted also for the ArgoMoon programme. For the first time in history an Italian SmallSat will monitor the kinetic impact of a satellite with an asteroid. This is a very complex role that will happen in total autonomy miles away from the Earth – said David Avino, Argotec Managing Director. Taking part in this mission as a key player represents an important responsibility. At the same time, this is also a recognition of our company knowledge for the development of compact satellite solutions able to work in deep space.”
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