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U-SPACE in orbit

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CNES has entrusted U-Space, an ISAE-SUPAERO spin-off, to develop the NESS nanosatellite.

Last December 12th, U-Space, the young start-up co-founded in February 2018 by Fabien Apper (engineer, ISAE-SUPAERO class of 2015), Antoine Ressouche (ENAC) and Nicolas Hulmeau (École des Mines de Nantes) signed its first satellite production contract.

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A 6U cubesat

This in-orbit demonstrator, NESS – for Nanosat 3U for Surveillance of the civilian Spectrum – was developed to perform planetary surveillance of the civilian radiofrequency spectrum in the L and S bands and to analyze sources of jamming. For this mission, it will embark the miniaturized SPECTROLITE instrument developed by SYRLINKS, combined with a wideband antenna.

NESS’s objective is also to provide in-orbit validation of the very small, very low-mass satellite design developed using the “design to cost” approach. This defining project for U-SPACE is an opportunity for them to truly take off into NewSpace.

Fabien Apper, Chief Executive Officer (CEO),said, “For it to work, the commercial exploitation of space by private players needs to develop the ability to launch satellites quickly at a lower price, and that is U-SPACE’s goal with its 3U and 6U CubeSats.”

NESS’s development benefited from the U-SPACE team’s expertise acquired during the design and production of the EyeSat flight software, successfully launched by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Center last December 18th.

For this mission, CNES granted U-Space marketing rights over the technologies and the results gathered by EyeSat. Currently, the CubeSat is operated from the Toulouse University Space Center (CSUT) on the ISAE-SUPAERO campus.

U-SPACE, from spin-off to take off

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EyeSat, 3U cubesat

The three founders met under CNES’s JANUS program (Jeunes en Apprentissage pour la réalisation de nanosatellites au sein des Universités et des écoles de l’enseignement Supérieur), which gives students an opportunity for an immersion in the space engineering professions by developing and sending CubeSats into space.

The three graduates chose to put the many skills acquired during their studies to work by developing a spin-off at ISAE-SUPAERO’s Innovspace. Accompanied and supported from the outset of their project by research professors from the Institute, they have also been able to take advantage of the school’s infrastructures to effectively develop their spin-off, U-Space. It now supplies turnkey space systems whose purpose is to facilitate access for everyone thanks to quality, high-performance CubeSats, from the mission design stage through to tests, launch and in-flight operations. U-Space offers solutions that are fully adaptable to their customers’ needs to address a wide range of missions for commercial, governmental, scientific and academic applications.

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U-Space Team

“U-Space is the fruit of our amazing adventure with the EyeSat project, which helped us to improve our skills in designing CubeSats. NƐSS will be an opportunity for us to bring the EyeSat platform into production to offer high-performance, high-reliability 3U and 6U CubeSats to our customers,” said Fabien Apper. NESS is scheduled to be launched in 2021.

Since last October, the U-Space teams have been housed at the District in the Aerospace Valley of Toulouse. They have also received funding from the European Space Agency’s ESA BIC incubator.
In January, the company will have 9 employees and 15 by the end of 2020. This way staffing structure is supported by Airbus Développement.

Beyond developing the NESS demonstrator, we plan to continue to offer our 3U CubeSat, which stands out from the others for its performances and its quality. At the same time, we are going to carry out an R&D action on a 6U CubeSat that will integrate electric propulsion and formation flying capacities, notably to address the needs of commercial constellations and patrol satellites for space surveillance, Fabien Apper concluded.

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