Space

First NorthStar SSA Satellites to Launch in 2023 by Virgin Orbit

By Aazam

NorthStar Earth and Space will launch its first satellites with Virgin Orbit in mid-2023 to collect space situational awareness data.

NorthStar stated Oct. 27 that Virgin Orbit will launch its first three Spire 12-unit cubesats in mid-2023.

In March, NorthStar signed a contract with Spire to build and operate those three satellites as part of Spire's "space as a service" business model.

Spire and Virgin Orbit signed a launch agreement Oct. 12 for numerous LauncherOne missions commencing in 2023

The satellites are the first of 24 planned spacecraft in a constellation by NorthStar to gather commercial SSA data

NorthStar will use eight orbital planes of three satellites each to track satellites and debris from low Earth orbit

The satellite system's technical specifications, such as how many objects it can follow or the precision of the SSA data it will generate, have not been made public by NorthStar.

He noted that the U.S. Space Force's Space Fence radar on Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific would complement the satellite constellation

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