• William Crowe | CEO

HEO Robotics engages in space demonstration with Royal Australian Air Force

Updated: Jun 25, 2019

HEO Robotics is committed to driving the next generation of strategic Space Situational Awareness from the high ground: space itself, on the SpaceFest 2019 which is supported by the Royal Australian Air Force's Plan Jericho.

The Argus constellation by High Earth Orbit Robotics (HEO Robotics) is designed to sit in High Earth Orbit and observe and characterise objects in Geosynchronous Orbit. The design of Argus allows coverage of this valuable orbit during the day time when most sensors are blinded by the sun.

Argus can also take high-resolution images of damaged satellites, to better understand the cause of the damage and help identify measures to prevent further destruction.

The constellation is controlled using HEO’s advanced research work in swarm techniques, making it resilient to interference and comms link downtime. By using nanosatellites, the Argus constellation can be used to cover a much wider area for situational awareness data collection that one or two larger and more expensive satellites.

Space-based Space Situational Awareness (SSA) is a crucial link to build a complete picture of what is happening in Earth orbit at all times. For HEO Robotics, it makes sense to take images from space itself, closer to where the most valuable objects are.

HEO Robotics uses its swarm control techniques to enable new SSA applications that were not previously possible. The company builds upon a rich ecosystem of nanosatellite development across the industry and academia in Australia.

At SpaceFest 2019, HEO Robotics will be performing high fidelity simulations of its swarm constellation. This will include a passive observation mode, where the constellation will be tasked to observe the position of an object in space, from space.

The demonstration will also showcase HEO’s “Dispatch” mode, showing how the Argus swarm controller can dispatch one spacecraft in the constellation to move closer to a satellite in the GEO belt and take high resolution images. This mode covers scenarios where GEO Satellites have suffered physical failures providing images of in-space assets to give insights into why failures have occurred. Two complete failures of valuable GEO-located satellites occurred in 2017, creating debris that can no longer be tracked.

In the last three years, ten nanosatellites have been built, launched and/or operated by Australian teams, with over a hundred planned or in production for the next three years, mostly for passive observation or communications in LEO. HEO Robotics implements control techniques to transform this base passive technology it into an active constellation capable of covering a much larger volume of the critical GEO orbital zone.

New methods of detecting the position of satellites and debris will be required as space becomes a more congested environment, with debris being created by new, rapid and unscheduled disassembly events.

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