High Earth Orbit Robotics (HEO Robotics) has released a proof-of-concept verification image of the International Space Station (ISS), using precision timed orbital predictions to control a camera on an Earth Observation satellite.
The image was taken just days before SpaceX’s Crewed Dragon docked with the ISS.
This is only the second time an Earth Observation satellite has been used to image another spacecraft. On this occasion, HEO Robotics used the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI)-owned Kompsat-3 satellite through their commercial partner, SI Imaging Services (SIIS).
HEO Robotics’ software provided millisecond accuracy to take the image, to compensate for the ten km/s relative closing velocity between the Kompsat-3 and the ISS. The image was taken from a distance of over 300 km.
HEO Robotics is now working towards higher resolution verification images and qualifying additional Earth Observation satellites to expand its space-based spacecraft imaging capabilities.
The image is part of HEO Robotics’ invitation-only customer pilot program, which collects performance analytics from multiple orbital images of customer-operated satellites. The resulting insights will help customers confirm satellite identity, perform external checks of damage, and verify orientation of deployables, spin-state and position, insights that are often either slower to achieve by ground-based systems within the timeframes that HEO Robotics will be able to achieve, or for many orbital types, completely impossible.
HEO Robotics is working towards a 2021 release of a fully operational service, in time to provide solutions for the tens of thousands of satellites planned for launch over the next several years.
The news comes as the government and Defence aim to improve Australia’s space domain awareness capabilities. Last week, for the first time, Defence’s Wide Area Surveillance System Program Office (WASSPO) hosted a webinar for the regular industry briefing program.
With a focus on the Space Domain Awareness (SDA) program, the presenters from CASG and RAAF went through the range programs they have on the books and the path forward for the domain. More coverage is available here.