About SFL: History and Highlights

December 11, 2013


Our Operational Heritage

Today is: 7-Dec-21

Satellite Launched Years Operational Months Operational
MOST 30-Jun-03 15.7 188.8
CanX-2 28-Apr-08 13.6 163.3
NTS 28-Apr-08 6.9 82.2
AISSat-1 12-Jul-10 11.4 136.9
BRITE Constellation Austria & UniBRITE:
19-Jun 14,
40.4 484.6
CanX-4 30-Jun-14 7.4 89.3
CanX-5 30-Jun-14 7.4 89.3
AISSat-2 8-Jul-14 7.4 89
EV9 28-Sept-15 6.2 74.3
M3MSat 22-June-16 5.5 65.5
GHGSat-D 22-June-16 5.5 65.5
CanX-7 26-Sept-16 5.2 62.4
NORsat-1 14-July-17 4.4 52.8
NORsat-2 14-July-17 4.4 52.8
Hawkeye 360 Pathfinder Hawk A, Hawk B, Hawk C:
9 108.5
NEMO-HD 2-Sept-20 1.3 15.2
GHGSat Constellation C1:
2.1 25.6
K Communications Constellation K4 & K5:
K8 - K15:
K6 & K7:
10.8 129.3
HawkEye 360 Constellation
Hawk 2A, Hawk 2B, Hawk 2C:
2.6 31.3
  Hawk 3A, Hawk 3B, Hawk 3C:
1.3 15.8
22-Mar-21 0.7 8.6
29-Apr-21 0.6 7.3
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.


SFL Honored by International Astronautical Federation (IAF) as Member of the Month
Nov 02 2021
Critical Microspace Technologies for Successful Earth Observation
Sep 07 2021
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Awarded Norwegian Space Agency Contract to Build NorSat-4 Maritime Tracking Microsatellite
Aug 09 2021
Three HawkEye 360 Formation-Flying Microsatellites Built By Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Successfully Launched
Jul 01 2021
NASA Selects Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) for StarBurst SmallSat Mission
Jun 28 2021
Why Small Satellites and the ‘Microspace’ Approach are Keys to Developing a National Earth Observation Program
Jun 03 2021
Norwegian Space Agency Announces Launch of NorSat-3 Maritime Tracking Microsatellite Built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL)
Apr 29 2021
Microspace Technology Enables All Countries to Reap the Benefits of National Earth Observation Programs
Apr 16 2021
Dubai Municipality Announces Launch of DMSat-1 Atmospheric Monitoring Microsatellite Built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL)
Mar 22 2021
Dubai Municipality and MBRSC to launch region’s first environmental nanometric satellite on March 20
Mar 11 2021
Blog - Quality is Not Synonymous with Standards
Mar 03 2021
GHGSat-C2 Captures First Methane Plume a Week After Launch
Feb 20 2021
Norway Selects Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) to Develop Technology Demonstrator Microsatellite
Feb 16 2021
Slovenia Releases Color Image from NEMO-HD Microsatellite Built by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) in Collaboration with SPACE-SI
Feb 08 2021
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Announces Successful Launch of 12 Satellites on SpaceX Ride-Sharing Mission
Jan 26 2021
Blog-Systems Engineering vs the CubeSat Kit
Jan 11 2021
HawkEye 360’s Cluster 2 Smallsats Ship To Cape Canaveral For Upcoming Launch
Jan 08 2021
SatTV interviews SFL’s Dr. Robert E. Zee
Nov 24 2020
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Awarded Contract by GHGSat Inc. to Build Three More Greenhouse Gas Monitoring Microsatellites
Nov 16 2020
GHGSat Reports Smallest Methane Emission Ever Detected from Space with Microsatellite Developed by Space Flight Laboratory (SFL)
Oct 22 2020
Space Flight Laboratory (SFL) Announces Launch of Two Satellites
Oct 08 2020
Space Flight Laboratory Announces Launch of Atmospheric Monitoring and Earth Observation Microsatellites
Sep 04 2020
Blog - Disruptive vs Operational Mission Strategies
Aug 12 2020
Blog - Join SFL at the Virtual SmallSat 2020
Jul 31 2020
Blog - SFL Serving Both NewSpace and MicroSpace Missions
Jul 29 2020
Blog - AISSat-1 Maritime Vessel Tracking Nanosat Celebrates 10th Anniversary
Jul 22 2020
Jul 17 2020
Blog - SFL Comprehensive Microspace Mission Development Includes Ground Segment
Jul 06 2020
Blog - Autonomous Formation Flying Enables Multi-Satellite Applications – Part 2
Jun 01 2020
Blog - Autonomous Formation Flying Enables Multi-Satellite Applications – Part 1
May 22 2020
Blog - What’s Under Development at SFL? Atmospheric Monitoring Missions
Apr 27 2020
Blog - What’s Under Development at SFL? Ship Tracking and Remote Sensing Missions
Mar 26 2020
Blog - SFL and Kepler Collaboration Featured on SatTV News
Feb 14 2020
Space Flight Laboratory and Kepler Communications Announce Collaboration on Fully Operational Nanosatellite Constellation
Feb 03 2020
Blog - What’s Under Development at SFL? Commercial GHGSat and HE360 Missions
Jan 13 2020
Blog - Attitude Control Crucial for Practical Applications of Small Satellites – Part 2
Dec 16 2019
Blog - Attitude Control Crucial for Practical Applications of Small Satellites – Part 1
Dec 09 2019
Blog - Do Microspace Companies Have a Role in the NewSpace Era?
Nov 15 2019
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
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