What Happened to Planetary Resources’ Real Satellite?

Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Arkyd-3 satellite (Credit: Planetary Resources)

While Planetary Resources unveiled a tiny model of a spacecraft 3D printed from asteroid metals amid much hype at the glitzy Consumer Electronics Show this week, the space mining company has apparently remained silent for nearly six months about an actual satellite it launched into space.

The Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) CubeSat was deployed from the International Space Station on July 16 on a planned 90-day mission to “validate several core technologies including the avionics, control systems and software, which the company will incorporate into future spacecraft that will venture into the Solar System and prospect for resource-rich near-Earth asteroids.” It was the company’s first deployed spacecraft.

Miniature satellite model made from asteroid material. (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Miniature satellite model made from asteroid material. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

“The successful deployment of the A3R is a significant milestone for Planetary Resources as we forge a path toward prospecting resource-rich asteroids,” Co-founder Peter Diamandis said in a press release. “Our team is developing the technology that will enable humanity to create an off-planet economy that will fundamentally change the way we live on Earth.”

The company has not posted an update on its website about this significant milestone since the satellite was deployed. The silence is rather odd given the significance of the mission and the company’s PR savvy.

A3R might have already re-entered the atmosphere. A search on N2YO.com indicates a satellite by that name re-entered the atmosphere on Dec. 23. However, the listing indicates a November 1998 launch date.

UPDATE: The A3R did in fact re-enter the atmosphere on Dec. 23. The November 1998 launch date is for the ISS Zarya module that was launched at that time. Anything deployed from the space station has that launch date.