sfl logo
University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
Space flight laboratory
...Big Performance, Smaller Satellites

CanX-7 Aircraft Tracking and Deorbiting Demo Satellite Launched, Contacted, and Healthy


Figure 1: CanX-7 in SFL Clean Room

TORONTO – 26 September 2016 – CanX-7, a 3.5kg, 10x10x34cm nanosatellite, was successfully launched on PSLV-C35 from India this morning. The satellite was contacted and found healthy during its first pass over Toronto several hours later. CanX-7 carries an Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) receiver to detect and track aircraft from low Earth orbit. The ADS-B receiver was built by the Royal Military College of Canada, and adapted for integration with CanX-7 by SFL. SFL has built and launched several ship tracking missions for various customers around the world, and the success of CanX-7 will enable SFL to expand its offerings to aircraft tracking applications.

The satellite also houses four square meters of deployable drag sail in four modules that will demonstrate accelerated deorbiting. The sails accelerate the orbital decay rate of the satellite by using atmospheric drag. The ballistic coefficient of the satellite is reduced by increasing drag area which results in earlier re-entry. “This is a milestone for Canada, in launching deployable drag sail technology developed at home,” says Robert Zee, Director, SFL, “Obtaining space heritage for these drag sails will open the door to including them on future nanosatellite and microsatellite missions to comply with IADC debris mitigation guidelines. Without such technology, higher altitude satellites may not return to Earth for hundreds of years.”

can-x7 launch

Figure 2: CanX-7 with drag sails deployed in Clean Room

The Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC), comprised of members from international space agencies, published guidelines in 2007 on what measures were needed to mitigate a growing orbital debris problem. Canada, among other space-faring nations, has effectively been enforcing the IADC’s recommended 25-year end-of-life deorbiting requirement for satellites in low Earth orbit. “The availability of SFL’s drag sail technology for future missions will ensure that those missions will proceed unfettered by regulatory requirements, and will act responsibly in the global effort to declutter Earth orbit,” says Zee.

Commissioning of CanX-7 will continue into October. Following this, the ADS-B aircraft tracking receiver will be tested over a six-month period. Upon completion of the ADS-B demonstration, CanX-7’s four drag sails will be deployed one at a time, while being monitored by on-board cameras. The deorbiting progress will then be observed over the course of several years.

About Space Flight Laboratory
SFL builds big performance into smaller, lower cost satellites. Small satellites built by SFL consistently push the performance envelope and disrupt the traditional cost paradigm. Satellites are built with advanced power systems, stringent attitude control and high-volume data capacity that are striking relative to the budget. SFL arranges launches globally and maintains a mission control center accessing ground stations worldwide. The pioneering and barrier breaking work of SFL is a key enabler to tomorrow’s cost aggressive satellite constellations.


CanX-7 Aircraft Tracking and Deorbiting Demo Satellite Launched, Contacted, and Healthy
Sep 26 2016
GHGSat-D (CLAIRE) Bus Commissioning Ahead of Schedule
Jun 27 2016
M3MSat Launched and Successfully Contacted
Jun 22 2016
GHGSat-D (CLAIRE) Launches Successfully and First Contact Indicates Good Health
Jun 22 2016
Deep Space Industries and SFL selected to provide satellites for HawkEye 360’s Pathfinder mission
May 26 2016
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) to Provide LEO Bus to SSL
May 10 2016
NORSAT-1 Launch Postponed Due to Faulty Bracket Provided by Arianespace
Apr 14 2016
BRITE-Constellation Sees Stars in a New Light
Feb 05 2016
Deep Space Industries Teams with UTIAS Space Flight Laboratory to Demonstrate Autonomous Spacecraft Maneuvering
Jan 26 2016
exactView-9 Launched Successfully and Contacted
Sep 28 2015
SFL’s Josh Newman Wins 1st Place in Small Satellite Student Competition for CanX-4 and CanX-5 Formation Flying Mission Contribution
Aug 12 2015
NORSAT-2 Contract Awarded to SFL by Norwegian Space Centre
Jul 13 2015
CanX-4&5 Formation Flying Mission Accomplished
Nov 05 2014
CanX-4 & CanX-5 Formation Flying Mission, One Month in Space
Jul 30 2014
Space Flight Laboratory Launches Five Satellites in Two Weeks
Jul 08 2014
AISSat-2 Successfully Launched
Jul 08 2014
Update on BRITE-Toronto and BRITE-Montreal
Jul 03 2014
Indian rocket successfully launches two Canadian satellites
Jun 30 2014
Two low-cost, car battery-sized Canadian space telescopes launched today
Jun 19 2014
UniBRITE and BRITE-Austria Commissioned and Operating Successfully
Feb 25 2014
Canadian Space Agency Awards Propulsion System Development Contract to SFL
Dec 02 2013
BRITE-PL1, WNISat-1, and GOMX-1 Launch Successfully
Nov 21 2013
Norwegian Space Centre Awards AISSat-3 Project to SFL
Jul 08 2013
SFL Wins Contract for First Norwegian Science Satellite – NORSAT-1
Jun 14 2013
UniBRITE Achieves Arcminute-Level Fine Pointing for First of its Kind Space Astronomy Mission
Jun 09 2013
Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Demonstration Satellite Contract Awarded
May 01 2013
Next Generation Automatic Identification System Satellites to be Developed under Communitech Program
Apr 19 2013
World's Smallest Astronomy Satellites In Orbit! (Toronto Star Article)
Feb 25 2013
Austrian BRITE Satellites Launched Successfully and Healthy! (Globe and Mail article)
Feb 25 2013
Microsatellite Science and Technology Centre (MSTC) Opens its Doors to the World
May 25 2012
Canadian Space Agency Awards Micro-mission Cluster Pilots Project to SFL
Mar 28 2012
SPACE-SI Awards NEMO-HD Contract to SFL
Dec 22 2011
Canada adds two satellites to BRITE Constellation
Jan 19 2011
AISSat-1 celebrates six months of success on-orbit, first nanosatellite with high performance pointing
Jan 12 2011
Norway signs AISSat-2 deal
Jan 06 2011
New Microsatellite Science and Technology Center (MSTC) planned for completion in late 2011
Dec 15 2010
CanX-7 Deorbiting Demonstration Mission Awarded Funding
Oct 28 2010
SFL-Built AISSat-1 Reaches Orbit and Confirmed Healthy
Jul 12 2010
CanX-2 Team wins the 2010 CASI Alouette Award
May 04 2010
UTIAS-SFL Trailblazing Small Satellite Technology (Space News)
Apr 20 2009
'Space News' Reports on "Trailblazing Small Satellite Technology" At SFL
Apr 20 2009
Rapidly Developed Ship-Tracking Satellite Approaches One Year On Orbit
Mar 02 2009
Big Science From Canada's Smallest Satellite
Mar 02 2009
NLS-4 Launch Rescheduled: Set for March 2008 on the Antrix PSLV
Jun 10 2008
MOST Team Wins Alouette Award 2008
Jun 10 2008
NLS-5 Launch Scheduled: for Q2 2008 on the Antrix PSLV
May 08 2008
NLS-4 Launch Scheduled - June 30, 2007: Antrix PSLV
Jun 30 2007
Canadian Space Gazette: The Canadian Advanced Nanospace eXperiment 2
Aug 01 2006
RCI Lecture: The MOST Space Telescope: Big Science on a Small Platform
Feb 13 2006
Toronto Star: Canada leads cosmic search for new Earth - January 12, 2006
Jan 12 2006
View All News Articles
© 2014 University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies Space Flight Lab. All rights reserved.