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University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies
Space flight laboratory
Smaller Satellites, Bigger Return

About SFL: History and Highlights

January 25, 2014


Our Operational Heritage

Today is: 17-Oct-19

Satellite Launched Years Operational Months Operational
MOST 30-Jun-03 15.7 188.8
CanX-2 28-Apr-08 11.5 137.7
NTS 28-Apr-08 6.9 82.2
AISSat-1 12-Jul-10 9.3 111.2
BRITE-Austria 25-Feb-13 6.6 79.7
UniBRITE 25-Feb-13 6.6 79.7
BRITE-PL1 21-Nov-13 5.9 70.9
BRITE-Toronto 19-Jun-14 5.3 64
CanX-4 30-Jun-14 5.3 63.6
CanX-5 30-Jun-14 5.3 63.6
AISSat-2 8-Jul-14 5.3 63.3
BRITE-PL2 19-Aug-14 5.2 62
EV9 28-Sept-15 4.1 48.7
M3MSat 22-June-16 3.3 39.8
GHGSat-D 22-June-16 3.3 39.8
CanX-7 26-Sept-16 3.1 36.7
NORsat-1 14-July-17 2.3 27.1
NORsat-2 14-July-17 2.3 27.1
Hawkeye 360 Pathfinder      
Hawk A 3-Dec-18 0.9 10.5
Hawk B 3-Dec-18 0.9 10.5
Hawk C 3-Dec-18 0.9 10.5
Total On-Orbit
Heritage as of Today
Years Operational
Months Operational

Our History

The Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies (UTIAS) was founded in 1998 and is Canada’s premier microspace organization. SFL builds low-cost microsatellites and nanosatellites that continually push the performance envelope. Missions are typically developed with stringent attitude control and data requirements that are striking relative to the budget available. SFL must be innovative while adopting a highly focused approach to development in order to achieve costs at a small fraction of the price of similar satellites developed elsewhere. SFL has developed the Generic Nanosatellite Bus (GNB) and the Nanosatellite for Earth Monitoring and Observation (NEMO) bus to provide low cost, high performance missions to international customers. SFL arranges launches through its Nanosatellite Launch Service (NLS) and provides customizable separation systems called “XPODs” for those launches. As part of its complete end-to-end mission capabilities, SFL maintains a mission control center consisting of multiple ground stations.

MOST_beautySFL operates multiple satellites from its mission control center, including MOST, CanX-2, NTS and the BRITE satellites. Each satellite represents an advance in the field and has broken barriers relative to what small satellites can do. The 53-kilogram MOST satellite, Canada’s first space telescope, was launched in June 2003 and has been operating successfully for many years despite having been designed for a one-year mission. The MOST space astronomy satellite has made an overwhelming impact through scientific discoveries related to solar-type stars and exoplanets. CanX-2, launched in April 2008, is Canada’s smallest operational satellite – roughly the size of a milk carton. Its technologies push the state of the art in low-power, miniature satellite components. It is also among the smallest scientific satellites in the world to first feature three-axis attitude stabilization. Nanosatellite Tracking of Ships (NTS), a 6.5-kilogram satellite, was launched together with CanX-2 in April 2008 to demonstrate leading edge ship detection technology from space. NTS was developed on an incredibly fast timeline of only six (6) months, a first for a satellite of this class in Canada and perhaps the world.

launchSFL launched a second ship detection satellite, AISSat-1, in July 2010 for the government of Norway. AISSat-1 is operating successfully in orbit and has proven the capabilities of the Generic Nanosatellite Bus (GNB). AISSat-2 and AISSat-3 have also been developed by SFL as followers to this highly successful mission. Other SFL missions include BRITE Constellation, a collection of six space astronomy nanosatellites for three countries, Austria, Poland and Canada, each satellite with better than 1 arcminute pointing accuracy. The first three BRITE satellites, UniBRITE, BRITE-Austria, and BRITE-PL1 were successfully launched in 2013. CanX-4&5 are formation flying nanosatellites developed by SFL to demonstrate precise, autonomous formation flying at low cost. SFL is also the developer of the NEMO Aerosol Monitoring (NEMO-AM) satellite for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), a 15-kilogram microsatellite for aerosol monitoring in three spectral bands. SFL is the developer of the NEMO High Definition (NEMO-HD) mission for SPACE-SI, a Slovenian Center of Excellence. NEMO-HD is 72-kg multispectral imaging and video mission with resolution down to 2.8m. SFL has contributed the attitude control system, command and data handling system, and power system to the Canadian Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat). Additional satellite development projects led by SFL include the ship tracking satellite EV9, the greenhouse gas monitoring satellite GHGSat-D, and Norway’s scientific satellite NORSAT-1.

In summary, SFL is recognized internationally for its ultra-low cost, yet high performance missions, and its ability to successfully exploit the latest commercial technologies in space.


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
GHGSat Announces 1000th Measurement – Two Months Ahead of Schedule
Apr 07 2017
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Nanosatellite Validates Aircraft Tracking, Prepares for Deorbit Demo
Mar 30 2017
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) to Develop Microsatellites for Greenhouse Gas Monitoring
Mar 24 2017
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
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