This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
30 Engineers. 1 CubeSat. 3 In-orbit experiments. The first satellite to ever re-enter the atmoshpere in a direct and controlled way.
30 Engineers. 1 CubeSat. 3 In-orbit experiments. The first satellite to ever re-enter the atmoshpere in a direct and controlled way. Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
About this project
D-Sat is a small satellite equipped with a dedicated propulsive device to remove it from orbit in a quick, direct, and controlled way at the end of its mission.
It will be launched in June 2017 to execute three orbital experiments. At the end of its mission, D-Sat will re-enter the atmosphere in a direct and controlled way, burning up instead of becoming new debris.
Our world is increasingly depending on space-based assets for applications like Earth observation, weather forecast, and global navigation. Check your smartphone: how many apps that use satellite data like maps, GPS, and weather forecast do you already have?
A new generation of space companies is currently designing more advanced infrastructure to support applications like disaster prevention, high-precision farming, and self-driving cars.
This technological progress is leaving Earth’s orbit crowded by an increasing population of man-made objects that no longer serve a useful purpose, like nonfunctioning satellites, rockets' upper stages, and other objects released during a space mission. A collision between two larger pieces of debris and the explosion of rocket bodies are the kind of events that can create further smaller debris. According to NASA, there are hundreds of thousands of pieces of debris ranging in size between 1 cm (0,4 inches) and 10 cm (4 inches) traveling around Earth, and this number is likely to increase if we keep leaving nonfunctioning satellites in orbit.
This problem is getting serious enough to deserve its own Oscar-winning movie (Gravity, 2013), its own IMAX experience (Space Junk 3D, 2012)... and this gem of an infographic.
While these resources are great to raise awareness, we think it is time to come up with a practical and cost-effective solution to help create the foundations for a new generation of self-decommissioning satellites.
D-Sat is the first satellite in history that will re-enter Earth’s atmosphere in a direct and controlled way right after the completion of its mission, burning up instead of becoming new debris. D-Sat is a three-unit CubeSat designed, built, and operated by D-Orbit. It will be launched into a 500 km sun-synchronous orbit, a region where the issue of space debris is particularly serious.
To understand why D-Sat is an important first, we need to understand three keywords: direct, controlled, and dedicated.
“Direct” means that at the end of its life, D-Sat will perform a maneuver that will put it into an immediate re-entry path. Other satellites perform decommissioning maneuvers that set them into a low-perigee orbit that brings them down in weeks, months or even years.
“Controlled” means that we decide where exactly the satellite will hit the atmosphere, so we can guarantee that no debris will fall on populated areas. With satellites performing indirect re-entry maneuvers the re-entry and landing area is left to chance, and this can be particularly dangerous with very large satellites.
“Dedicated” means that D-Sat sports an independent propulsive device specialized in performing decommissioning maneuvers in a safe and cost-effective way even if the main satellite stops working. The unit is a scaled-down version of our D-Orbit Decommissioning Device (D3).
Throughout its mission, D-Sat will perform three experiments: SatAlert, Debris Collision Alerting System (DeCas), and Atmosphere Analyzer.
SatAlert, designed in collaboration with CNIT and the University of Florence, is an in-orbit validation of the Multiple Alert Message Encapsulation (MAMES) emergency protocol. D-Sat will collect MAMES emergency messages sent from a ground station, store them onboard, and re-broadcast them to national public safety entities upon receiving a trigger command. This experiment will validate a typical emergency scenario where civil defense agencies need to broadcast instructions in areas affected by natural disasters when the ground telecommunication infrastructures have been damaged.
These emergency scenarios are becoming increasingly common given the tight correlation between climate change and extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, extreme rainfalls, and floods, and for this reason SatAlert may help saving lives. Should you be interested in the topic, here are a few articles you might like to read:
- SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN: Is There a Strong Link between Extreme Weather Events and Climate Change?
- TIME MAGAZINE: Scientists Are Making Stronger Links Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather
- EPA: Understanding the link between climate change and extreme weather
- NEW YORK TIMES: Scientists Study Links Between Climate Change and Extreme Weather
DeCas, developed in by Aviosonic, is an experiment to assess the dynamics of the debris footprint associated with the re-entry of a spacecraft. DeCas is a sort of small and lightweight “smart fragment” with the ability to determine its own position during re-entry phase. During the re-entry, DeCas activate itself and broadcast information about its location. In a real-world scenario, this information would be processed on the ground to determine the debris footprint, which would then be transmitted in real-time to airplanes flying over that zone and populated areas below. D-Sat will validate this approach by simulating the use of DeCas during the orbital phase, and performing an actual test during re-entry.
Atmosphere Analyzer is a data collection experiment aimed at collecting in-situ atmospheric data from the lower ionosphere during the re-entry maneuver. Before breaking up, D-Sat will cross the region between 80 km and 150 km. This is the least studied region of the atmosphere because it can’t be reached by satellites or stratospheric balloons. By doing so, D-SAT will validate an innovative approach for an in-situ data collection system that will be further developed in a dedicated mission in 2019.
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It all started with a dream: to find practical and affordable solutions to the increase of space junk in Earth’s orbit, and do so in a way that help satellite operators to maximize the use of their space assets.
After months on the drawing board, we came up with D-Orbit Decommissioning Device (D3), a smart propulsive system that can be scaled to fit spacecraft of any size. While we have moved on with the creation and testing of the various parts to make sure it actually works, we soon realized that we needed a full validation in space. It became increasingly clear that the best way to do it was to design and manufacture a satellite specifically for this purpose.
While this was the best way to do it, it certainly wasn’t the simplest. We had to acquire the know-how, the tools, and the capabilities to design, build, test, and certify for launch an entire spacecraft. Also, we had to complete the entire project in less than two years.
We decided to go for it, and the result of all our efforts is D-Sat.
If you want to read more about the technology behind D-Sat, check out our blog!
The commercial core of D-Sat’s mission has been fully funded by D-Orbit. D-Sat will be launched in June 2017, and perform direct and controlled re-entry afterward, proving that D3 is a viable and space-worthy technology.
The duration of the orbital phase, however, depends on the success of this campaign.
During the orbital phase, D-Sat will perform two activities: the SatAlert experiment and some dry runs of DeCas.
SatAlert will test a new emergency protocol that enables civil protection to broadcast messages to low power devices (like radios and smartphones) in areas hit by natural disasters, like floods, earthquakes, wildfires, and other events. Coordination in the first hours after a disaster is the most important factor in determining the success of the rescue efforts. Shocked by the magnitude of the disaster and cut out of any connection with the outside world, the victims are left with no guidance and support until the arrival of the first contingent of rescuers. The MAMES protocol enables direct communication between civil protection agencies and the population hit by a disaster. In a later stage, the MAMES protocol simplifies the coordination of rescue teams, improving crisis management efforts.
As the scientific community is giving evidence of correlations between climate change and extreme weather events (such as hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, extreme rainfalls, and floods), now more than ever this experiment may help saving lives during rescue missions.
DeCas will test a device designed to detect how spacecraft break up on re-entry and communicate footprint dynamics to aviation safety entities so they can move airplane traffic away from entering re-entry zones. This experiment will have a major impact on aviation safety because airplanes are particularly vulnerable to re-entry risk, and current safety protocols are based on statistical models that cannot be updated in real-time.
If you decide to back the campaign (which we encourage you to do! :D) these are the rewards we have prepared to show you our gratitude!
MISSION FAN: At €5 you will have our eternal gratitude! Plus, a Twitter shout-out and, of course, as a member of team D-Sat, backers' only updates!
MISSION SUPPORTER: With €10 you will also receive a digital Certificate of support!
MISSION FRIEND: With €15 you can add to the digital bag of goodies a collection of 3 mission-themed wallpapers!
SPACE COLLECTOR: If you're into gadgets, this reward tier is for you! Other than the digital rewards, with €35 (or €25 for a few early birds!) you will also receive 10 mission pins, 8 mission stickers and our exclusive D-Sat mission embroidered badge!
SPACE FASHIONISTA: With a pledge of €50 (€40 for the early birds) you will be able to download all our digital goodies, and will also receive our collection of pins and stickers, the mission badge and the mission t-shirt!
SPACE DECORATOR: At € 100 an eye-popping mission poster, signed by the members of our team is the gem of this reward level! Poster dimensions are 50x66cm (19,7x26in).
SPACE MASCOT: At this level you get to take home the plush toy version of our adorable, uber-huggable mascot, realized by the creative and talented folks at budsies.com! (Approximately 16 inches/40 cm in size).
AVID LEARNER: Our people are men and women of many talents! And they'd be happy to share them with you. At €350, you will be able to choose two of our 101 video-courses. From a bike-repair lesson to cooking classes and culture/traveling guides, we've got you covered!
STAR GAZER: Do you enjoy star gazing? Well, we dare say that with our mission sweatshirt, a cozy mission fleece and our own Star-gazing 101 pamphlet you'll enjoy it even more!
LEGIT SPACE GEEK: At this level you'll get to learn a bit more about space from our own CTO, Lorenzo! His crash course in Space Engineering specifically designed for non-engineers is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn more about this fascinating environment, regardless of their academic background.
MISSION AMBASSADOR: At this level starts the Ambassador Program! We could not be more grateful for your support and involvement in the mission and to show our gratitude we want to invite you and guest to our decommissioning event in our headquarters in Como, Italy! Plus, a Newton reflector telescope (4.5in-class or similar), with a laminated sticker with our mission logo and your name (and, should you decide to donate the telescope to a school of your choice, the name of the school).
MISSION COWBOY: You are our hero. And to show you our appreciation, you and a guest are invited to the decommissioning event at our headquarters, in Como (Italy) and we will send you (or a school of your choice) a Newton reflector telescope (6in-class or similar) with a laminated sticker with our mission logo and your name (and, should you decide to donate the telescope to a school of your choice, the name of the school).
MISSION ROCKSTAR: The title of this reward says it all. You're a rockstar! And as such, we'd be honored to have you and a guest attend our decommissioning event at our headquarters in Como, Italy. Plus, at this level, you will receive a computerized reflector telescope (6in-class or similar), with an engraved plaque with our mission logo and your name (and, should you decide to donate the telescope to a school of your choice, the name of the school).
SPACE TRAVELER: Have you ever been to Italy? Would you like to come back? At this level, not only you'll be able to participate in our Ambassador program, but you'll be a special guest at our decommissioning event, and we'll offer you a week long stay in stunning Lake Como.
Please note that travel expenses to and from Italy are not included.
Aside from backing the campaign, the most valuable thing you can do for the mission is to share it on your social media and by email. Join our team and help the D-Sat mission achieve its full potential!
We started our quest in 2011 with a team of four people. We began recruiting young and promising space engineers and put them to work with senior professionals with multi-decade experience in the most important European and American space companies. Our goal was to leverage tradition to develop innovation.
Six years later, as we moved on with the development of our technology, our family has kept growing. As of now, the team encompasses 30 amazing people, as talented and passionate as they are hardworking and brilliant.
Although over the years we have evolved, and to this day we keep expanding our horizons and setting the bar always a little bit higher, we are proud of our beginnings! This is one of our first videos:
We couldn’t be happier! We have dedicated an entire website to this mission, and we are keeping it up-to-date with materials about the mission, the issue of space debris, and other space-related trivia. Here is a list of posts you may like to read:
- Space junk demystified.
- Satellite decommissioning in Low Earth Orbit: how to do it properly.
- Word of the day: Decommissioning.
- Decommissioning the Cassini Probe: science and environment.
In addition, due to the shape and dimensions of some of the rewards, shipping rates may seem a bit high for some international locations. We calculated shipping rates beforehand, and are able to swallow part of them; also, please note that shipping is free for all Early Bird Specials and for all pledges in the Ambassador Program.
Risks and challenges
A space mission is no joke, and there are lots of things beyond our control that can go wrong. By making a pledge to D-Orbit you agree to accept the risks defined below, and possibly other risks not explicitly stated here. To enable delivery of the rewards we may have to request further information from Backers. We’ll do our best to notify you of any problem, delay, or change of programs via Kickstarter.com, its website, and/or any an email address that you provide. All questions or disputes regarding eligibility for pledge rewards will be resolved solely by D-Orbit.
1) Launch – D-Sat will go to space on top of a PSLV launcher as a secondary payload. As with any launch and ride-share, this choice it opens up a few challenges:
a) Shared launches can be delayed for reasons outside our control, postponing our mission for a period of weeks or months;
b) The orbital destination of the rocket may place D-Orbit in a non-ideal altitude, either higher or lower than estimated. D-Sat is capable to perform a direct re-entry from an altitude of 600 km or lower, far higher than the expected 500km altitude. In the extremely unlikely case D-Sat was put into a higher orbit, the maneuver would result in an indirect re-entry;
c) Occasionally, rockets go boom. The PSLV rocket has a very good track record, so we should be safe from this point of view with a limited amount of wood-touching and finger-crossing. In any case we are insured against launch failure, and we would be able to book another flight and launch our qualification model, D-Sat’s identical twin that we have build for testing.
d) Missed signal acquisition: CubeSats are released in a swarm, and they take some time to reach a separation wide enough to allow signal acquisition. In some extreme cases the spacecraft could get lost before signal acquisition.
2. The launch and operation of a spacecraft is technically complex and involves many risks beyond our control. We are not responsible for any failure to perform all or part of the mission if such failure is caused by events or conditions beyond our control like explosion, acts of nature, war, civil disturbances, acts of civil or military authorities, legal or regulatory changes, meteoroid impacts, alien invasion, and so on.
3. Obtaining Rewards - To obtain a reward a Backer must be verified following the completion of a successful campaign. All rewards are subject to availability and restrictions may apply as to when rewards can be provided. In the event we were unable to fulfill any reward for any reason, we will offer the affected Backer a fair substitution of the reward or provide a full refund of the Backer’s pledge amount upon request.
4. We are not responsible for lost or stolen rewards, certificates or tickets.
Backers are solely responsible for determining any tax liability arising out of rewards provided by us. Backers are subject to and must comply with any additional terms, conditions and restrictions that may apply to specific rewards. Unless otherwise specified in writing in these terms and conditions or on the Kickstarter.com page, we are not responsible for providing meals, transportation or accommodation arrangements that may be associated with claiming a reward.
5. Certain rewards may be subject to minimum requirements regarding age or other factors. It is the Backer’s sole responsibility to comply with all necessary requirements for the reward as described.
6. Backer agrees to hold D-Orbit and its affiliates and subsidiaries harmless against any loss or liabilities arising from Backer’s participation in D-Sat Kickstarter Project.
7. Everything regarding the D-Sat Kickstarter Project, including the website and all rewards, are provided “as is”.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter