12 August 2019 – Power is a key limitation for modern satellite technology. As satellites have shrunk, their ability to gather sunlight has decreased. Electric power systems can take up more than 25% of the cost, weight and volume of a satellite. These requirements can be hugely restrictive for engineers, especially in small satellites such as CubeSats.
With an ever-increasing restriction on weight, volume and cost, power is one of the most restricted resources on board a satellite. Simply increasing the size (and weight, and cost) of solar panels to increase power is often not a solution given the small and standardized format of CubeSats.
Lumi Space applied some serious out-of-the-box thinking to satellite power generation. Often, as little as 10% of a satellites’ average orbital time is spent performing operations, especially during the ‘dark’ side of its orbit around Earth. The Lumi Space idea to increase operational effectiveness is as simple as it is brilliant.
By using modern laser technology, Lumi Space will power satellites from Earth, adding to what they receive from the Sun. This means that satellite batteries can be charged by a focused laser from Earth, even when the solar panels aren’t in direct sunlight. This has many important advantages such as night operations, reduced costs and more timely data acquisition and transmission.
This creative out-of-the-box thinking, or quite literally ‘inside-the-box’ thinking, is what caught the attention of the Call to Orbit programme, a joint programme by space mission provider Open Cosmos and the European Space Agency.
Lumi Space was selected as the first of ten exclusive winners of the programme, providing them with valuable space mission expertise by Open Cosmos, including mission software and access to satellite payload integration and test hardware, plus knowledge, advice, and introduction to a valuable network to commercialise their idea via ESA.
By being part of the Call to Orbit programme, Lumi Space will be able to expedite its research and testing, and start designing a test mission in space, on the versatile and easy-to-use Open Cosmos integration platforms. This partnership with a satellite manufacturer and operator allows them to test their concepts with flight-ready hardware.
Hira Virdee, founder and CEO of Lumi Space said: “The Call to Orbit program is hugely valuable to us, both in terms of validation of our business idea and approach, and from a technical perspective – it enables us to keep our focus on how we achieve our business goals, while gaining the cutting-edge insight and input of Open Cosmos engineers.”
Rafel Jorda Siquier, founder and CEO of Open Cosmos said: “By having Lumi Space in the Call to Orbit programme we can clearly see the benefit of our open platform for developing, testing and qualifying payload at the lowest possible cost in the shortest possible time, allowing our friends from Lumi Space to have a fully functional ready-to-market prototype to show investors. We congratulate Lumi Space with their selection into this exclusive programme, and we are looking forward to working with them to make their exciting solution the next big thing in space!”
Niels Eldering of ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions added: “We are proud of our ESA BIC alumni community and Open Cosmos’ active approach to join us in encouraging and supporting other innovative firms that want to excel with Space. The Call to Orbit programme is a very good example of this.”