Small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies LLC (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, announced the successful launch and on-orbit commissioning of the spacecraft bus, supporting the Colorado Ultraviolet Transit Experiment, or CUTE, payload on a mission undertaken by University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP).

CUTE, which successfully launched aboard an Atlas V rocket on Sept. 27, 2021, is a 6U CubeSat using near-ultraviolet transmission spectroscopy from 255 to 330 nanometers to characterize the composition and mass-loss rates of exoplanet atmospheres. The researchers behind the mission plan to measure escaping gases from hot Jupiter atmospheres as the exoplanets transit across the faces of their parent stars.

The $3.8 million NASA-funded mission is the result of four years of work. LASP researchers believe that the new study of hot Jupiters (gas giants with orbital periods of less than 10 days) will help planetary scientists better understand the evolution of the solar system.

“Blue Canyon’s partnership with LASP on CUTE represents a landmark mission in the process of better understanding hot Jupiters and, by extension, the discovery of exoplanets throughout our galaxy,” said Stephen Steg, CEO of Blue Canyon Technologies. “Blue Canyon’s star tracker-based spacecraft platform, with ultra-low disturbance reaction wheels, and advanced control algorithms, has enabled a whole class of cutting-edge missions.”

“What is unique about CUTE’s approach to exoplanet transit spectroscopy is the technical innovation of packing a small telescope and spectrograph into such a tiny volume, and the dedicated mission architecture: CUTE does nothing but stare at planetary transits,” said Kevin France, principal investigator at LASP. “We hope CUTE will demonstrate that we can do science with small satellites that have only previously been possible with larger, shared-use space telescopes.”

About Blue Canyon Technologies

Blue Canyon Technologies (BCT), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, offers a diverse portfolio of innovative, reliable and affordable spacecraft that enable a broad range of missions and technological advancements. BCT’s mission is to enable space missions to expand the frontiers of science and defense. BCT is currently supporting nearly 50 unique missions with over 90 spacecraft, all in production or recently delivered at their newly developed 80,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette, Colorado.

BCT has supported missions for the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and provided the Attitude Control Systems for the first interplanetary CubeSats, which successfully traveled to Mars. The company has been recognized with awards from Inc. Magazine’s 5000 Fastest Growing Private Companies, the 2020 Best in Biz Award and the 2020 Tibbetts Award.

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About Raytheon Intelligence & Space

Raytheon Intelligence & Space delivers the disruptive technologies our customers need to succeed in any domain, against any challenge. A developer of advanced sensors, training, and cyber and software solutions, Raytheon Intelligence & Space provides a decisive advantage to civil, military and commercial customers in more than 46 countries around the world. Headquartered in Arlington, Virginia, the business generated $15 billion in pro forma annual revenue in 2020 and has 37,000 employees worldwide. Raytheon Intelligence & Space is one of four businesses that form Raytheon Technologies Corporation.