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CanX-4 and 5 formation flying mission accomplished

05 November 2014

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Only four months following launch, the CanX-4 and CanX-5 dual satellite formation flying mission has been accomplished ahead of schedule.

During the month of October, the CanX-4&5 nanosatellites used on-board propulsion, GPS-based relative navigation, and intersatellite radios to execute a series of precise, controlled, autonomous formations, ranging from 1 km range down to 50 m separation. In each case, more than 10 orbits were accomplished with sub-metre formation control and centimetre-level relative navigation, feats which (to SFL's knowledge) have never before been accomplished at the nanosatellite scale.

"CanX-4 and CanX-5 were designed to demonstrate formation flying in two along-track orbits, and two projected circular orbits,", said Grant Bonin, the CanX-4&5 project manager. "We're pleased to report that we've now completed all of the intended formations, and indications are that have out-performed our control performance requirements in every case. We are very pleased with the results."

Launched on 30 June 2014 from Sriharikota, India onboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) which also carried the SPOT-7 satellite and two other spacecraft from Germany and Singapore, the CanX-4 and CanX-5 nanosatellites were deployed separately following launch, after which a series of orbit acquisition and phasing maneuvers were used to bring the satellites within communication range of each other.

Source: University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies - Space Flight Laboratory (UTIAS SFL)

Image credit: SFL - CanX-4 and 5

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