Planetary Resources Hits Bump in the Road

Arkyd-6 spacecraft (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Alan Boyle at GeekWire reports that asteroid mining company Planetary Resources has been forced to make some cutbacks.

A spokeswoman for Planetary Resources, Stacey Tearne, told GeekWire that financial challenges have forced the company to focus on leveraging the Arkyd-6 mission for near-term revenue — apparently by selling imagery and data.

“Planetary Resources missed a fundraising milestone,” Tearne explained in an email. “The company remains committed to utilizing the resources from space to further explore space, but is focusing on near-term revenue streams by maximizing the opportunity of having a spacecraft in orbit.”

Tearne said no further information was available, and did not address questions about employment cutbacks. However, reports from other sources in the space community suggest there have been notable job reductions. For what it’s worth, Planetary Resources had more than 70 employees at last report.

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Planetary Resources Selected for SBIR Phase I Contracts

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

NASA has selected asteroid mining company Planetary Resources for two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) awards for the development of a propulsion module and advanced imaging technology for CubeSats.

One project involves the production of a standard propulsion module that could be used for CubeSats ranging from 6 to 12 units.

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DARPA Awards Arkyd SBIR Phase I Contract for Spacecraft Hypervisor

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

Arkyd Astronautics, a company owned by Planetary Resources, has been selected by DARPA for  2013 SBIR Phase I award for a project to incorporate hypervisor-based software virtualization into spacecraft architectures. I know that’s a mouthful; the benefits of it are described in the company’s abstract below.

Arkyd was one of four companies working on hypervisor technology that DARPA selected for Phase I awards. The other companies were: DornerWorks, Ltd., of  Grand Rapids, MI; Emergent Space Technologies, Inc., of Greenbelt, MD; and Intelligent Automation, Inc., of Rockville, MD.  All the abstracts are below.

DARPA 2013 SBIR Phase I Awards
Hypervisor Software Virtualization

Arkyd Astronautics, Inc.
Bellevue, WA
PI:  Ray Ramadorai
Title: Spacecraft Hypervisor Implementing Modularity and Security (SHIMS)

Abstract: Incorporating hypervisor-based software virtualization into spacecraft architectures offers the capability to integrate payload software in a plug-and-play fashion, enabling more flexible and reconfigurable platforms. The hypervisor allows the payload software to be implemented in an abstracted, virtualized environment, which isolates the payload software from core spacecraft functions and offers significant advantages for payload development efficiency, modularity, re-use, integration, and test. (more…)

NASA Selects Arkyd for SBIR Phase I Award

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

NASA has selected Arkyd Astronautics, the fully-owned subsidiary of the asteroid-mining company Planetary Resources,  for a Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I contract for work on advanced software to better guide robotic spacecraft in their exploration of and sample return missions from near Earth objects.

“A real-time convex optimizer named COARSE (Convex Optimizer for Asteroid Rendezvous and Sampling Return) is proposed in order to efficiently guide path planning operations as well as spacecraft guidance and control,” according to the proposal summary. “COARSE consists of a series of high level goals with specific set of execution steps, rather than complex interaction with ground control. This proposal plans to develop and simulate a basic optimizer for the purpose of a robotic spacecraft in proximity operations to an asteroid for a sample return mission, and implement in a spacecraft avionics software environment.”

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