Space - Scanway

Scanway Space
- space solutions in sight 

Smart and robust optical instruments for space industry.
Smart and robust optical instruments for Space industry.

Projects and missions

Our space experience.
PIAST
EagleEye
ScanSAT
DREAM
DREAM
Other
"We must still think of ourselves as pioneers to understand the importance of space" - Buzz Aldrin

PIAST - Polish ImAging SaTellites

In 2021, we became part of a consortium creating a project for the precursor of a Polish Earth observation satellite constellation. In cooperation with the Military University of Technology, Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Science, Lukasiewicz Institute of Aviation, Creotech Instruments S.A. and PCO S.A. within the program SZAFIR we started working on the creation of Polish dual- use satellites. In the project, we are responsible for the optical payload – 2 of 3 high-resolution Earth Observation telescopes that will provide information to support Polish defense and government.

Project goals

Creation of a precursor of a Polish satellite constellation for imaging reconnaissance at resolutions below 5 m per pixel. The key point of the project is to manufacture all major components in Poland, including - a high-resolution optical telescope.

Project effects

• in-house designed dedicated optics
• athermal design of the telescope structure
• resolution of 5 m/px
• small size
• no ITAR (export restrictions)
• resistant to space conditions

Time horizon

2021-2025

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"I see Earth! It is so beautiful!" - Yuri Gagarin

EagleEye - Earth Observation microsatellite 

Step into the New Space with confidence! In 2020 we became part of the team creating the largest Polish Earth Observation satellite. We are responsible for the optical payload – the largest observation telescope fully designed and constructed in Poland, characterized by unique technical parameters. The project is implemented in according with the Space 4.0 philosophy and ESA methodology with the support of external experts. The launch of the satellite is scheduled for 2023. 

Project goals

Develop an observation payload that will enable imaging in the VIS and NIR spectral bands with a GSD resolutions of 1 m in the VIS.

Efekty projektu

• in-house designed dedicated optics
• spatial resolution of 1 m in VIS from 350 km SSO orbit 
• athermal design of telescope structure 
• scalable
• use of state-of-the-art materials 
• use of COST and ITAR-FREE elements 
• possibility to integrate other sensors (e.g. rulers), which can also operate at other wavelengths (e.g. SWIR)

Time horizon

2020-2023

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"We are limited only by our imagination and our will to act" - Ron Garan

ScanSAT- nanosatellite prototype for Earth Observation

In 2017 we started a research project to build a prototype of a CubeSat nanosatellite for Earth observation with a proprietary optical system “made by Scanway”. One of the milestones of this project was the signing of a letter of intent with German Orbital systems, assuming the recognition of the possibility of launching the nanosatellite to the orbit of the Moon.

Project goals

• Development of an Earth observation telescope dedicated to a CubeSat type standard 
• Integration of the telescope with the nanosatellite and functional testing at high TRL

Project effects

• Earth observation satellite telescope 
• in-house designed dedicated optics 
• imaging resolutions <4 m/px from orbit at 500 km altitude (world’s best performance in this class of satellites) tested and proven in company laboratory 
• athermal design and the telescope structure 
• available in multi and hyperspectral variants 
• possible to integrate with laser telecommunication system 
• scalable design 
• ready for integration into 6U CubeSat type nanosatellites, after scaling also 3U

Time horizon

2017-2020

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"It's difficult to say what is possible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and reality of tomorrow" - Robert Goddart

DREAM - DRilling Experiment for Asteroid Mining

Everyone has to start somewhere. We started our Space adventure by working on the DREAM project, implemented by Wrocław University of Science and Technology as a part of the REXUS/BEXUS (Rocket/Ballon EXperiment for University Students) program organized by the European Space Agency in cooperation with the Swedish National Space Council (SNSB) and German Space Agency.

Project goals

To explore the drilling process in microgravity and vacuum conditions prevailing in Space. The main difference between this mission and missions by CBK PAN (Centrum of the Space Exploration Polish Science Academy) is that the whole experiment was conducted in Space conditions, and samples hadn’t been collected for further research in a laboratory on Earth.

• Exploration the behavior of drill cuttings under vacuum and non-gravity conditions 
• Analysis of the influence of drill bit geometry on the spatial distribution of drill cuttings 
• Observation of drilling process
• Validation of the vision system for drilling process control 

Project results

• proprietary drilling tool
• measurement chamber
• vision system to observe the experiment 
• duccessful experiment and set of results 
• experience gained by working with the best 

Time horizon

2016-2017

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"It's difficult to say what is possible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and reality of tomorrow" - Robert Goddart

DREAM - Drilling Experiment for Asteroid Mining

Każdy musi od czegoś zacząć. My zaczęliśmy naszą kosmiczną przygodę od pracy przy projekcie DREAM.

Był on realizowany przez Politechnikę Wrocławską w ramach programu REXUS/BEXUS (Rocket/Ballon EXperiments for University Students) organizowanego przez Europejską Agencję Kosmiczną we współpracy ze Szwedzką Krajową Radą ds. Przestrzeni Kosmicznej (SNSB) i Niemiecką Agencją Kosmiczną.

To właśnie ten projekt utwierdził nas w przekonanu, że chcemy pracować w branży kosmicznej.

Cele projektu

Zbadanie procesu wiercenia w warunkach mikrograwitacji i próżni panującej w przestrzeni kosmicznej. Co istotne, cały proces wiercenia odbywał się w warunkach kosmicznych (z reguły w przestrzenii kosmicznej pobiera się próbki, które analizuje się w laboratorium).

Efekty projektu

• opracowanie autorskiego systemu wykonywania odwiertu
• stworzenie komory pomiarowej i systemu obserwacji przebiegu eksperymentu
• analiza wpływu geometrii wiertła na rozkład przestrzenny generowanych zwiercin
• zagregowanie kompletu danych i sukces misji

Horyzont czasowy

2016-2017

Partnerzy

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MHRET
product line (EO)

Multispectral High Resolution Telescope 
find out more

SHS
product line

Autoinspection of small 
satellites
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Products

Our solutions for the rapidly growing space sector.
"It's difficult to say what is possible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and reality of tomorrow"

- Robert Goddart
PIAST
EagleEye
ScanSat

MHRET – Multispectral High Resolution Telescope

A product line of high-resolution optical telescopes for satellites ranging in size from nanosatellites (ScanSAT) to microsatellites (EagleEye and PIAST). 

The product line was created as a spin-off of three of our largest projects - ScanSAT, EagleEye and PIAST.

Technical specification

• modular design allowing scalability (from nano- to microsatellites)
• optics and telescope type allowing to adapt results (spatial resolution, image quality parameters e.g. MTF) to application needs 
• wide spectral window of optics 
• possibility of integration with any sensors (including multisensor systems): RGB, mono, NIR, linear, multi- and hyperspectral 
• athermal telescope structure 
• design of the telescope made according to Space 4.0 philosophy
• possibility to integrate star sensors into one structure with the telescope in order to reduce the impact of AOCS on both systems 
• telescope shutter safety systems 
• possibility to integrate telecommunication solutions into optical path of imaging sensors
• use of COTS and ITAR-free elements 
MHRET 2
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"It's difficult to say what is possible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and reality of tomorrow"

- Robert Goddart

SHS – Satellite Health Scanner

A product line of integrated systems for self-inspection and self-diagnostics of any orbital infrastructure unit. These are on-board devices, cameras and microcomputers designed to detect degradation levels, errors and anomalies in satellite equipment.

SHS is first of all a solution for every satellite integrator, but also a guarantee of investment security for investors in the space sector. By detecting errors in one satellite, it is possible to prevent their occurrence in the future.

Technical specification

• functional modules to enable multiple applications
• thermographic cameras and sensors to identify overheating components
• boom cameras to diagnose external structures, solar panels and breakdown mechanisms
• situational cameras
• radiation dose detection modules
• data processing on board and transmission to Earth
• ability to operate in independent communication channel and independent power supply mode
SHS
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Know-how

Our knowledge in the field of space optical instruments.
Stratospheric balloon missions
The mechanics of a space telescope
Requirement engineering
Laser telecommunication
Other

Stratospheric balloon missions

What is the best way to test the space payload? Performing computer simulations or testing in space-like conditions? In this article, we will tell you how we tested space instruments using a stratospheric balloon.
Jędrzej Kowalewski

CEO Scanway

Why do we have to pay so much attention to testing?

Space conditions, including vacuum, very low temperatures, radiation, and strong UV radiation, negatively affect electronics, optical and mechanical equipment. Therefore, payloads placed on satellites should be designed and developed in such a way that makes it possible for those devices to work without interference. The best way to properly prepare the hardware is to continually test it in space-like conditions. There are several ways to do it: performing complex computer simulations including many parameters, testing in a vacuum chamber, or testing the equipment in the stratosphere. At Scanway Space, we have chosen the latter option.

Missions goals

The goal of such missions is to verify in space-like conditions the behavior of optical, mechanical, and electronic components that we are planning to place in orbit. The idea is to place the components developed and used by our engineers in the gondola of a stratospheric balloon, which ultimately reaches an altitude of 30 km in order to achieve low pressure and low-temperature conditions.

A mission usually consists of several experiments, for example, a test of optical coatings used in telescopes, a test of the OBC computer at low temperatures, and a test of components of the satellite mission self-diagnostic system.

Misja balonowa Scanway Space

Missions course

The mission starts with the preparation of the balloon components, planning the experiments, creating the appropriate software to diagnose the equipment being tested. The next step is the balloon launch: the stratospheric balloon is filled with hydrogen (or alternatively: helium). Then, a payload is attached to the balloon containing the planned experiments. When all the steps are done correctly, the balloon is launched into the air.

After the balloon reaches the planned height (usually 35 km), it explodes and the controlled descent begins. During the whole mission, the onboard computer collects data, on the basis of which we are able to analyze the course of the mission and the behavior of all the payload elements.

This kind of stratospheric balloon flight cannot take place without obtaining the appropriate permissions, which are given by air navigation. Our missions are piloted by WroSpace Association.

The mechanics of a space telescope

What is most important in the mechanics of space projects? How can you verify the correctness of your work? Learn more with a case study of the mechanics of the ScanSAT project.
Jędrzej Kowalewski

CEO Scanway

Space – the biggest challenge

Developing devices that are designed to work in space is a number of responsible and narrow-ranging activities. What is important in the mechanical aspect of designing a satellite? The mechanical design of a telescope must accomplish a mass of requirements. From the basics, allowing the satellite to survive the journey into space and later stages of the mission unscathed, to advanced, perfectly designed tools to ensure the safety of the mission and its trouble-free progress.

Mechanika teleskopu 3

The mechanical framework of the ScanSAT satellite

In designing the mechanics of the ScanSAT telescope, we placed great value on identifying and realizing safety and structural requirements. We divided them into functional and endurance aspects. Functional aspects are those that allow ensuring proper work of the imaging system. These include the mechanical structure - which must be designed in such a way that thermal deformation of the optical system does not affect the quality of imaging. The strength aspects, on the other hand, when used properly, protect the satellite from the effects of loads, accelerations, and vibrations. We also had in mind other mechanical components not related to security or imaging support, which must also pass durability tests and compatibility with the launch platform.

Athermal & modern

As a result, we developed an athermal optomechanical system that is constructed using, among other things, aluminum and carbon fiber composites. Resistance to temperature fluctuations is a very important feature here since it allows to minimize the influence of temperature fluctuations during the transition between the lit and the shaded part of the orbit. The application of this type of solution was possible to achieve only thanks to modern techniques of design support and numerical analysis.

Requirement engineering

What is the requirement engineering and why is it a so important element of space projects?
Mikołaj Podgórski

COO Scanway

What if…

What if things in space broke down as often as our microwave, washing machine, or robot on a processing line in a factory?

Not-so-good things would happen, and this is best illustrated with a data example. In 2019, approximately 13 million microwaves were sold in the U.S., requiring replacement every 7-10 years on average, and 10 million washing machines replaced every 10 years on average. By analogy, in space: one of the world's industry leaders Satellogic has only sent 21 satellites in its entire history (or as many as), and Maxar has sent 4.

In case of home appliances failure, we lose some money and a lot of comfort. In the case of space products, we lose a huge amount of money and data, in addition to that - non-functioning space objects remain in space (no replacement available) and turn into nothing more than space trash, creating a serious hazard. Seeing the obvious difference in the level of loss, it is worth considering - how to prevent big space problems?

Inżynieria wymagań 3

The hardest part is the launch

The most complicated thing for space hardware is the launch itself. Sending anything even into LEO is associated with years of preparation and huge amounts of money - and that's basically what it is. The second and no less complicated thing is space itself. Gravity, vacuum, temperature, radiation - conditions definitely different from those on Earth. For example, all equipment sent into space should be adapted to work in a temperature range from -100 to 100 degrees Celsius.

Is space the most challenging environment for which humans build machines? No. There are places on Earth where conditions are even less friendly. For example, the ocean floor, where we struggle with pressures that require very advanced engineering solutions. Therefore, what is the most important in space projects is a new, open view. On the project itself, on the requirements, on instrumentation tests, on software, and even on the way of managing the project. Space challenges every obviousness and acting "by heart", regardless of the stage of the project, is usually harmful.

Tests are the most important

Statistically, most failures appear during the first year of equipment presence in space. The causes are varied: electronic, mechanical, soft. About 17% of the causes are failures defined as "unidentified". Since the space industry is not a place to learn from mistakes, the most important part of any space project are (or at least should be) requirements and testing.

The requirements (functional, performance, or design) are largely formed by the conditions in which the device will work. Space itself dictates a lot of them, and we should also add those defined by the nature of the payload. So it is not difficult to imagine a list of requirements for a satellite that is several full pages long - and that is, among other things: a sign of a well-recognized environment and clearly defined requirements. Fortunately, we can count on support in the field of defining and verifying requirements. Our space project will be taken care of by, among other things: external reviewers who will regularly review and redefine the predefined requirements.

But listing requirements is not the key to accomplishing them. They need to be constantly verified - in tests, checks, trials, and inspections. Such "training" not only allows you to note errors and learn as the project progresses - but it also provides a sense of order, eliminates many fears, and allows for comprehensive risk management. Testing is almost the most important part of creating any space project. No matter how many times we test a given element - there will always be not enough. No matter how many scenarios we consider, something may happen that we were not able to predict. The universe still knows how to surprise us, but the most important thing is to surprise us in what we couldn't predict despite our efforts.

Laser telecommunication

How to send gigabits of data from space to Earth in less than 10 minutes and do it safely? Learn more about Scanway's work on laser communications!
Michał Zięba

CTO Scanway

Security data in space

The work of any device in space, including Earth observation satellites, requires the transmission of data to receiving stations. How do you send gigabits of information quickly? What if the data is sensitive and there is a need to secure the entire communication process? These and other problems are solved by laser telecommunication. As part of our research work, we decided to design and develop laser communication that would transmit data quickly and over very long distances, while ensuring their security.

Telekomunikacja laserowa 3

Why traditional solutions are not secure?

Traditional radio communication is accomplished by appropriately modulating an electromagnetic wave that propagates in every direction and ultimately provides coverage of a very large area of the Earth. Laser communication works similar to fiber optic communication - from point A to point B. The photons entering the fiber from the transmitter go only to the destination point at the end of the medium (fiber) - the receiver. For space applications, the laser beam uses the atmosphere as a medium, but a properly prepared laser telecommunications module is able to send the beam to a specific, relatively small point on Earth. Conventional transmission of information carries a number of risks, such as frequency limitations, the need for an extensive network of receiving stations, encryption, low bandwidth, and constant upgrades to increase transmission power. Laser telecommunications solves these problems.

What does laser communication offer?

With laser communication, there is no need to regulate the legal process of information exchange due to the fact that the laser beam falls on a specific location on Earth. This enables a secure way of transmitting information where eavesdropping is only possible if the listener is physically next to the receiver. Due to the very high energy concentration, the transmission power is also much lower than in conventional telecommunications. The biggest advantage of laser telecommunications is its enormous throughput. Speeds of the order of gigabits per second are possible - values an order of magnitude higher than those used with conventional X-band or other telecommunications.

The light - what is it and how can we measure with it

We believe that everything can be measured with light. What the light is, how does it work, and how can we “measure with light”?
Jędrzej Kowalewski

CEO Scanway

The light

First of all, light is a physical phenomenon and has a dual nature. On the one hand, it is a stream of photons (the smallest energy carriers) that move in a specific direction, while on the other hand, it is a wave. For this reason, the nature of light is described as wave-particle duality, which gives the light a unique range of parameters.

Light parameters

We deal with light in practically every aspect of our lives. Natural and artificial light follows us all the time. Laser, ultraviolet, microwave, and X-ray light can be found everywhere. The most common parameters of light are luminous flux, luminous intensity, and luminance.

However, when looking at light scientifically, the most important parameters for classifying types of light are the wavelength [nm] emitted by the source, the frequency [Hz], and the irradiance [W/m2], which is the radiant flux per unit area.

Electromagnetic spectrum

Electromagnetic radiation by wavelength can be divided into:

  • UV < 350 nm
  • Near UV 350 - 400 nm
  • VIS 400 - 780 nm
  • Near Infrared 780 - 1100 nm
  • Infrared > 1100 nm
  • Microwaves 1 mm - 30 cm
  • Radio waves > 30 cm

There are 4 types of infrared radiation: NIR (Near Infrared), SWIR (Short-Wave InfraRed), MWIR (Mid-Wave InfraRed), and LWIR (Long-Wave InfraRed).

Earth Observations

How do we measure with light in space? First of all, it is important to make a difference between Space Observations (stars, planets, meteoroids, etc.) and Earth Observations. For Earth Observations (EO), the mechanics of the measurement includes 3 steps:

  • the radiation emitted by the Sun reaches objects that are on the Earth's surface (oceans, forests, buildings, etc.);
  • when a ray of light meets an object, part of the ray is absorbed by the object, and part is reflected;
  • an observation satellite with a telescope equipped with a highly sensitive detector catches the light reflected from objects on Earth and records it.

Detectors of what type of radiation do we use for measurements in space? Waves of the visible VIS and infrared NIR and SWIR spectrums are most often registered. Photons of these types of radiation are either reflected or absorbed by objects on Earth, which allows achieving strong contrast necessary for high-resolution imaging. VIS is primarily used to identify an object, its shape, and its dimensions. However, infrared radiation gives other possibilities. One of them is to obtain the vegetation index NDVI which is calculated on the basis of NIR and VIS and allows defining the area as built-up area, uncovered land, water, snow, area with existing vegetation along with the type of vegetation.

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