Planetary Resources to Launch First Spacecraft on Monday

Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Asteroid mining company Planetary Resources will launch its first satellite aboard the Cygnus spacecraft on Monday. Here is the company’s previous press release announcing the launch.

The A3 is the Arkyd 100’s technology demonstrator, and the mission will provide for early testing and serve to validate the spacecraft’s core technology and software in the development of the program.

Planetary Resources is under contract with NanoRacks, through its Space Act Agreement with NASA, to release the A3 from the International Space Station’s Kibo airlock.

“We are excited for the opportunity that this rapid launch option provides us to begin testing the avionics and control systems of the Arkyd Series spacecraft,” said Chris Lewicki, President and Chief Engineer, Planetary Resources, Inc.

He continued, “The A3 test flight will enable the Arkyd-100 Series to be the most advanced spacecraft per kilogram that has ever been built. The A3 is a sophisticated yet cost-effective means to test technologies supporting the follow-on Arkyd 100 missions in 2015.”

Around the size and weight of a small desk-top computer, the Arkyd 100 provides a compact and capable platform for NEA detection and characterization. The A3 test spacecraft, at just 10 lbs (4 Kg), about one-third the weight of an Arkyd-100, offers an even more compact vehicle for early testing for many of Arkyd 100’s key functions.

Planetary Resources’ long-term mission is to mine NEAs for raw materials, ranging from elements used in rocket fuel to precious metals.  The Arkyd-100 Series will be used in low-Earth orbit to assist in selecting the first priority targets for the company’s follow-on expeditions.

“We believe that the best testbed for the Arkyd is space itself,” said Chris Voorhees, Vice President of Spacecraft Development, Planetary Resources, Inc. “Deploying the A3 from the International Space Station provides an efficient and cost-effective way to test many of the new technologies that we’ve developed for its future asteroid prospecting platforms. The team is excited about getting A3 some flight time on orbit next year.”