Tyvak Selected for NASA SBIR Phase 1 Award

Tyvak Nano-Satellite System plans to develop a low-cost, high-performing avionics system for use in small launch vehicles and maneuvering upper stage carriers with the help of NASA funding.

The space agency selected the Tyvak Extended Mission PlatfOrm (TEMPO) for funding under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 program. The contract is worth up to $125,000  over 13 months.

“The system provides autonomous guidance and control and stage/deployment sequencing,” the proposal summary stated. “It also uses customizable subsystem packages to enable carrier vehicles to provide services currently unavailable to small satellites, such as delivery of multiple satellites to multiple orbital planes, long-duration carrier vehicle operations, delayed deployment of spare satellites until they are needed to replenish a constellation, hub-and-spoke rendezvous and proximity, and communication relay.”

Tyvak said TEMPO could be used extensively by government and commercial companies.

“Many planned DoD and commercial projects using small satellites require a large number delivered to orbit to form the constellations necessary to complete their mission or close their business case,” the proposal stated. “Companies such as HawkEye 360, Black Sky, PlanetiQ, Planet, and others can benefit from a launch platform that can deliver satellites totaling over 500kg to specified multiple orbits or spaced out in the same/similar orbit on a single launch.”

The proposal summary follows.

Proposal Title:
Tyvak Extended Mission PlatfOrm (TEMPO)

Subtopic Title:
Small Launch Vehicle Technologies and Demonstrations

Small Business Concern:
Tyvak Nano-Satellite System, Inc.
Irvine , CA

Principal Investigator
Mr. Liam Cheney

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL):
Begin: 1
End: 3

Technical Abstract

The Tyvak Extended Mission PlatfOrm (TEMPO) leverages ongoing component development and existing Tyvak hardware and software to produce a low-cost, high-performing avionics system for small launch vehicles and maneuvering upper stage carrier vehicles.

The system provides autonomous guidance and control and stage/deployment sequencing. It also uses customizable subsystem packages to enable carrier vehicles to provide services currently unavailable to small satellites, such as delivery of multiple satellites to multiple orbital planes, long-duration carrier vehicle operations, delayed deployment of spare satellites until they are needed to replenish a constellation, hub-and-spoke rendezvous and proximity, and communication relay.

Consolidating these capabilities into the carrier vehicle allows for simpler satellite designs with more of the size, weight, and power devoted to the payload. For launch vehicles requiring an autonomous flight safety system, Tyvak will assess simultaneous processing of safety-critical and non-safety critical algorithms using a real-time operating system running on a single dual-core or multi-chip processor. This could reduce size and weight, or increase redundancy without weight penalty.

Tyvak will also evaluate a flexible modular design configurable for single-string or redundant architectures. Compared with existing launch and carrier vehicle avionics, TEMPO drastically reduces cost, size, weight, and power by leveraging Tyvak’s small satellite and launch vehicle avionics technologies, such as the advanced lightweight GPS metric tracking unit Tyvak is developing under a NASA Tipping Point contract.

This technology is scheduled to undergo three sounding rocket certification flights within the year. TEMPO effort will culminate in a system-level PDR that will define the system architecture. Successful completion of the PDR will pave the way for a follow-on effort to take the system to TRL 5-6, and eventual flight demonstration.

Potential NASA Applications

TEMPO is an excellent fit for developers striving to both expand the small launch vehicle market and develop a small, maneuverable upper stage capable of long duration and multi-satellite delivery missions. The NASA TROPICS program is a potential benefactor of such an upper stage – reducing the number of launches and time it takes to populate the required constellation. TEMPO’s proximity operations capability will enable missions such as satellite maintenance, refueling, and ISS inspection.

Potential Non-NASA Applications

TEMPO has extensive government and commercial utility. Many planned DoD and commercial projects using small satellites require a large number delivered to orbit to form the constellations necessary to complete their mission or close their business case. Companies such as HawkEye 360, Black Sky, PlanetiQ, Planet, and others can benefit from a launch platform that can deliver satellites totaling over 500kg to specified multiple orbits or spaced out in the same/similar orbit on a single launch.