Update on BRITE-Toronto and BRITE-Montreal
SFL (Toronto) – On 19 June 2014, two BRight Target Explorer (BRITE) satellites were launched from Yasny, Russia on a Dnepr launch vehicle. The two satellites, known as “BRITE-Toronto” and “BRITE-Montreal,” are the fourth and fifth members of the six-satellite BRITE-Constellation, and represent Canada’s contribution to the multi-nation, low-Earth-orbit space astronomy mission. All BRITE satellites were designed by the Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) using the lab’s Generic Nanosatellite Bus (GNB) technology. All five satellites launched to date have used the XPOD dispenser (separation system) designed and developed by SFL.
BRITE-Toronto was contacted and determined to be healthy shortly after launch. Contact with BRITE-Montreal, unfortunately, has not been established. While Yuzhnoye initially declared that both satellites had separated from the launch vehicle, they later announced that they were unable to confirm separation of BRITE-Montreal. Analysis of the expected orbital elements provided by Kosmotras (the launch provider) and analysis of all objects identified by NORAD as emanating from the launch vehicle indicate that there is no object in the expected BRITE-Montreal orbit. Attempts to contact BRITE-Montreal along the possible orbital trajectories have not been successful. In addition, attempts to obtain detailed telemetry reports from Kosmotras and Yuzhnoye for the BRITE-Toronto and BRITE-Montreal spacecraft, that include activation signals from the launch vehicle and built-in separation telemetry from the XPOD dispensers, have been unsuccessful. Although SFL continues the search for BRITE-Montreal, in all likelihood it did not separate from the Dnepr launch vehicle.
The XPOD has, to date, deployed successfully 21 out of 21 times in orbit from several different launch vehicles. Four of these successful deployments have been on two Dnepr launches. Subsequent to the latest Dnepr launch, two additional SFL satellites, CanX-4 and CanX-5 were launched on 30 June 2014 by PSLV-C23 from Sriharikota, India. Both satellites deployed successfully from the launch vehicle using the XPOD dispenser with confirmation based upon XPOD telemetry.