NanoAvionics to build two signal-mapping cubesats for Dutch-Norwegian program

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MT LAUREL, New Jersey — A consortium of Dutch and Norwegian government agencies has selected NanoAvionics to build a pair of cubesats for an experimental military program, the company announced April 20. 

The satellites will weigh no more than 10 kilograms and are scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2022, NanoAvionics said. 

Norway and the Netherlands plan to use the satellites, called BROS (binational radiofrequency observing satellites) to demonstrate space-based signal mapping for military applications. 

The satellites will follow each other 15-25 kilometers apart in a polar low Earth orbit, enabling both spacecraft to detect the same signals from sources such as ships using radar to navigate. The satellites will then measure the time difference between detecting the signals and the angle of signal arrival to geolocate its source.

Norway’s Defence Research Establishment teamed with the Royal Netherlands Aerospace Centre and the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research to direct the mission. 

NanoAvionics said the cubesats will be based on its M6P platform, equipped with deployable solar panels, propulsion and a high-precision attitude determination and control system. 

Norway and the Netherlands’ entrance into space-based signal mapping follows that of commercial startups HawkEye 360, Kleos Space and UnseenLabs, all of which are in the early stage of deploying cubesat constellations in low Earth orbit.