CanX Program: Mission

December 10, 2013

LawTigerThe Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiment (CanX) program at the UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory provides cost-effective access to space for the research and development community at home and abroad through the use of nanosatellites. These circa 10-kilogram spacecraft employ state-of-the-art technologies and subsystems, including high-performance computers, miniaturized attitude control sensors and actuators, and high-speed communication devices.

The first CanX satellite, CanX-1, was primarily a programmatic pathfinder to forge the general approach to development, launch and operations of nanosatellites in Canada. The spacecraft’s principle mission focused on space-testing key technologies for future SFL micro and nanospacecraft. These key technologies included colour and monochrome CMOS imagers, a novel low-cost computer and active-three axis magnetic stabilization. CanX-1 was successfully built and was launched on June 30th 2003.

The next CanX satellite, CanX-2, was launched in April 2008 and is significantly more capable than CanX-1. While CanX-1 was SFL’s first foreray into nanosatellites, CanX-2 represents a nanosatellite developed with high performance objectives following SFL’s full quality assurance plan. CanX-2 has successfully met its two mission objectives. The first objective was to demonstrate key technologies required for the CanX-4 & -5 formation flight mission. These technologies include a novel SFL-designed cold gas propulsion system and miniature attitude determination and control subsystem sensors and actuators to name a few. The second objective was to perform scientific data collection of importance to the Canadian research community. The scientific mission continues to this day and includes a miniature spectrometer to detect greenhouse gases and a GPS occultation experiment to measure vertical profiles of total electron content and water vapor in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

CanX-3, also known as BRIght Target Explorer (BRITE) Constellation, involves six nanosatellites funded by three countries (Austria, Poland, and Canada) that will observe the largest and brightest stars in the sky. Using a technique called differential photometry, BRITE Constellation will measure subtle variations of light from these objects in order to probe the structure and evolution of massive stellar objects. BRITE Constellation will achieve this mission using three-centimeter aperture optical telescopes carried by the six nanosatellite platforms.

In addition to supporting leading-edge scientific research, the CanX spacecraft are used for technology demonstration. The advanced components incorporated into the spacecraft are candidate technologies for future high-performance microsatellites. CanX missions are an excellent means by which to gain flight heritage for developmental systems. Some examples are described below.

CanX-4 and CanX-5 is a dual nanosatellite formation flying demonstration mission. It involves two nanosatellites flying autonomously in precise formations in low Earth orbit. Relative position determination will be accurate to a few centimeters using carrier-phase differential GPS techniques. Relative position control will be accurate to within one meter.

CanX-6, otherwise known as Nanosatellite Tracking of Ships (NTS), launched in April 2008, is a mission developed and successfully implemented for COM DEV Ltd. to demonstrate high performance Automatic Identification System (AIS) detection of ships from space. This mission was developed by SFL in six months and launched in the seventh. It represents one of the most responsive space missions conducted worldwide.

CanX-7 is a deorbiting demonstration mission. In order to address the debris mitigation guidelines of the Inter-Agency Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), SFL is developing a compact, scalable drag sail that can be used to ensure reentry of small satellites within the IADC 25-year limit in cases where a satellite cannot deorbit naturally on its own.

LATEST NEWS & BLOGS

Norwegian Space Agency Announces Launch of NorSat-3 Maritime Tracking Microsatellite Built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL)
Apr 29 2021
Microspace Technology Enables All Countries to Reap the Benefits of National Earth Observation Programs
Apr 16 2021
Dubai Municipality Announces Launch of DMSat-1 Atmospheric Monitoring Microsatellite Built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL)
Mar 22 2021
Dubai Municipality and MBRSC to launch region’s first environmental nanometric satellite on March 20
Mar 11 2021
Blog - Quality is Not Synonymous with Standards
Mar 03 2021
GHGSat-C2 Captures First Methane Plume a Week After Launch
Feb 20 2021
Norway Selects Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) to Develop Technology Demonstrator Microsatellite
Feb 16 2021
Slovenia Releases Color Image from NEMO-HD Microsatellite Built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) in Collaboration with SPACE-SI
Feb 08 2021
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Announces Successful Launch of 12 Satellites on SpaceX Ride-Sharing Mission
Jan 26 2021
Blog-Systems Engineering vs the CubeSat Kit
Jan 11 2021
HawkEye 360’s Cluster 2 Smallsats Ship To Cape Canaveral For Upcoming Launch
Jan 08 2021
SatTV interviews SFL’s Dr. Robert E. Zee
Nov 24 2020
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Awarded Contract by GHGSat Inc. to Build Three More Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Microsatellites
Nov 16 2020
GHGSat Reports Smallest Methane Emission Ever Detected from Space with Microsatellite Developed by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL)
Oct 22 2020
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Announces Launch of Two Satellites
Oct 08 2020
Space Flight Laboratory Announces Launch of Atmospheric Monitoring and Earth Observation Microsatellites
Sep 04 2020
Blog - Disruptive vs Operational Mission Strategies
Aug 12 2020
Blog - Join SFL at the Virtual SmallSat 2020
Jul 31 2020
Blog - SFL Serving Both NewSpace and MicroSpace Missions
Jul 29 2020
Blog - AISSat-1 Maritime Vessel Tracking Nanosat Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Jul 22 2020
HAWKEYE 360 COMPLETES MILESTONE IN PREPARATION TO LAUNCH SECOND CLUSTER
Jul 17 2020
Blog - SFL Comprehensive Microspace Mission Development Includes Ground Segment
Jul 06 2020
Blog - Autonomous Formation Flying Enables Multi-Satellite Applications – Part 2
Jun 01 2020
Blog - Autonomous Formation Flying Enables Multi-Satellite Applications – Part 1
May 22 2020
Blog - What’s Under Development at SFL? Atmospheric Monitoring Missions
Apr 27 2020
Blog - What’s Under Development at SFL? Ship Tracking and Remote Sensing Missions
Mar 26 2020
Blog - SFL and Kepler Collaboration Featured on SatTV News
Feb 14 2020
Space Flight Laboratory and Kepler Communications Announce Collaboration on Fully Operational Nanosatellite Constellation
Feb 03 2020
Blog - What’s Under Development at SFL? Commercial GHGSat and HE360 Missions
Jan 13 2020
Blog - Attitude Control Crucial for Practical Applications of Small Satellites – Part 2
Dec 16 2019
Blog - Attitude Control Crucial for Practical Applications of Small Satellites – Part 1
Dec 09 2019
Blog - Do Microspace Companies Have a Role in the NewSpace Era?
Nov 15 2019
HawkEye 360 Awards Contract to Build Next-Generation Satellite Constellation to Achieve Rapid Revisit for Global Spectrum Awareness
Sep 18 2019
Space Flight Laboratory to Build HawkEye 360 Next-Gen Microsatellite Cluster for Commercial Radio Frequency Geolocation
Mar 27 2019
Canada Awards Contracts In Support of Arctic Surveillance
Feb 01 2019
Arianespace to Launch Slovenian NEMO-HD Microsatellite
Dec 03 2018
HawkEye 360 Announces Successful Launch of First Three Satellites Built by SFL Under Contract to DSI
Dec 03 2018
A New Star in the Sky
Nov 20 2018
GHGSat selects Arianespace to launch GHGSat-C1 on Vega
Nov 15 2018
UTIAS-SFL Students Win Significant Awards for their Technical Papers
Aug 14 2018
SFL-Led Nanosatellite Team Receives Canadian Alouette Award for Precise Autonomous Formation Flight
May 17 2018
NorSat-3 Ordered by Norwegian Space Centre, Satellite Under Construction at SFL
Jan 10 2018
Norwegian AIS Satellites See Far More Ships
Jan 10 2018
BRITE Reveals Spots on Supergiant Star Drive Spirals in Stellar Wind
Oct 24 2017
CLARA on NorSat-1 Successfully Switched on for the First Time
Aug 25 2017
Norwegian Satellites Launched Successfully and Healthy
Jul 14 2017
GHGSat Unveils Satellite Imagery
May 23 2017
Dubai Space Centre Orders Environmental Monitoring Satellite from SFL
May 16 2017
After Only One Week, CanX-7 Shows Drag Sails are Effective at Deorbiting Satellite
May 11 2017
CanX-7 Successfully Deploys Drag Sails kicking off Deorbiting Demonstration
May 04 2017
View All News Articles View All Blog Articles
© 2014 University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies Space Flight Lab. All rights reserved.